Slow Down Your Reps, Speed up Your Gains:  Build Muscle with Slow Eccentrics

Slow Down Your Reps, Speed up Your Gains: Build Muscle with Slow Eccentrics

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression: It’s not what you do, but how you do it, that matters. Nowhere is this more true than in the gym. There are endless ways you can manipulate a single exercise to build muscle.. Isometric holds, cluster sets, partial reps, sets to failure and beyond.. slow eccentrics, etc etc ad infinitum.

However, if there’s one variable you can control that will have the biggest impact on building slabs of muscle, it would have to be Tempo. In particular, the tempo of the eccentric part of the lift (the “way down” in a bench press or curl, or the “way up” in a Lat Pulldown.)

Let’s take a look at how slow eccentrics can speed up muscle growth (hypertrophy), and give some specific examples you can implement into your training to harness their power.

Check out JACKED AF: 10 Week Max Hypertrophy Program. These methods and many others are included in 10 weeks of blood, sweat, and tears. (This is only for those who are serious and ready to train hard).

jacked af hypertrophy build muscle

Longer Time Under Tension

Simply stated.. Slowing down the eccentric portion of a lift will result in a much longer set.. often upwards of 60 seconds or longer of suffering.

Time Under Tension is often touted as the primary driver of muscle hypertrophy. This is not necessarily true, and it is simply ONE factor that can influence protein synthesis. I want to be clear that slow eccentrics are a tool, not some supreme method of training..

If you’re performing 3 sets of 15 Biceps curls at the end of your training session, performing them with a slow, 4-5 second eccentric will feel a LOT different and will have a stronger training effect in regards to hypertrophy.

All science aside, it’s simply a more challenging set. The muscle fibers are under stress/tension for much longer and having to work much harder. Given the soreness people often have after performing reps this way, there’s clearly an added stimulus being presented to the body.

One study by Pope Et al (2015) observed that 4 weeks of using nothing but eccentric reps resulted in significant gains in muscle cross sectional area.

I can also personally attest that adding this element into my (and my clients’) training for a 6 week training cycle gave me noticeable hypertrophy in the Shoulders and Triceps, where I used slow eccentric reps.

jacked hypertrophy eccentric reps

The Law of Accomodation

The Law of Accomodation is an important training principle. It states that: “Constantly repeating the same type of training will eventually lead to diminishing returns.”

With this in mind, you can see that adding in a new method like slow eccentric reps can be a way to avoid the law of accomodation and keep your body in a state of adaptation and growth.

Sometimes things don’t have to be complicated. At the end of the day, it can actually be pretty simple.

If you currently perform all of your reps with no regard to tempo at all, and simply blast through your sets.. introducing slowed down eccentric reps will be a new stimulus to the body.

Thus, you will likely get a strong response from the training method, until your body becomes well adapted and “used to” the eccentric reps. You will probably be very sore from performing reps this way, which is another indication that something different and “new” is being presented to the body.

Examples

Below are some example of how you can implement slow eccentrics into your training routine. I’ll give some of my favorite movements that have worked for me and my athletes/clients.

Eccentric Lateral Raises:

These are tough. Perform DB lateral raises, with a 4-5 second eccentric on every rep. Keep a slight bend in the arms. To get in additional reps, you can “cheat” the weight up a bit in order to get a few extra eccentric reps.

Start with 3 sets of 8-12 reps and aim lighter than you’d normally go. From there you can work on hitting more sets/reps and bumping the weight up.

Fat Bar Reverse Curl w/Slow Eccentric

Using a fat bar or Fat-Gripz makes these especially challenging. With a reverse grip, curl the bar up, then slowly lower back down, looking for a 4-5 second eccentric. An empty barbell will probably be plenty here to start out with. Shoot for sets of 10-12 reps paired with another Biceps movement like hammer curls or incline curls done at regular tempo.

DB Triceps Extensions With Slow Eccentric

Keeping the upper arms vertical or angled slightly back, lower the DB’s down towards your head, looking to feel a stretch in the Triceps at the bottom. Looking for about a 4-5 second eccentric on every rep. Shoot for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps and go from there.

Single Arm Barbell Curl With Slow Eccentric

The added challenge of having to balance the barbell in one hand makes these even more challenging. Looking for a long, slow eccentric of 6-8 seconds. I like these as a finisher or as a way to sneak in some volume for the Biceps on a different training day during the week.

You may like: Build Muscle Faster with Tempo Training

Final Thoughts

jacked af hypertrophy build muscle

As with all training methods, this is a tool you can carry to maximize your time spent training.

It’s important to note that this method is likely not very good for strength purposes (although it can have some positive impacts on strength, such as increased tendon strength and better movement efficiency and mind-muscle connection).

You’re primarily stimulating Type 1 Fibers with the longer, slower sets and increased TUT. To maximize results, this should be combined with some heavier, more explosive work.

If you want to have this and more programmed in for you and have a roadmap to big results, check out my 10 week JACKED AF Program available through the TrainHeroic app. It’s a badass program that will get you, well… jacked af.

Thanks for being here. I hope this helps you on your journey towards your best self.

How to Get Jacked With Swole Town

How to Get Jacked With Swole Town

“Everyone wants to be a beast… Until it’s time to do what beasts do.

Swole Town is what beasts do. It’s blood, sweat and tears with plenty of Gains to show for it. Specifically, it’s a hypertrophy program designed to pack on slabs of muscle and have you training like a beast.

For those who have entered the Lion’s Den, this is a manual and description of the program and how you can get the best results from it. So let’s dive in.

Methods: What causes Hypertrophy?

The first step in designing any program is to define to goal of the training. Here, it is hypertrophy with strength as a secondary goal. The next step (for me, anyways), is to define what methods will be used and how they will be deployed.

Training is simply a stress placed on the body. Our bodies ADAPT to stress that we encounter on a regular basis. In the case of building muscle, we specifically need to focus on two things:

Mechanical Load

Mechanical load is simply resistance placed on the muscle fibers. The heavier the weight, the greater the mechanical load.

Metabolic Fatigue

Think of doing a high rep set of Biceps Curls. The burning, and the subsequent “Pump.” That is the result of metabolic stress. Metabolic fatigue in the muscle is a huge stimulator for hypertrophy.

To maximize hypertrophy, it’s ideal to have a healthy combination of both, which is why bodybuilders typically operate within the 8-12 rep ranges. You can still use relatively heavy weight while inducing metabolic fatigue.

JACKED Methods:

For this training, we will use specific methods to harness the power of mechanical load and metabolic fatigue. Specifically, we will use:

Check out Swole Town now and never look back

Giant Set AMRAPS

AMRAP = As Many Rounds/Reps as possible

Giant Set = 3 (or more) movements for the same muscle group performed one after the other without rest.

On days 1 and 5 of each week, we’ll deploy this method. It will be timed, as many rounds as you can get in. The purpose here obviously being serious metabolic fatigue.

The time will increase as the program progresses, as will the reps for each set. Basically, it will get harder.

Extended Drop Sets

Drop sets = hitting a prescribed number of reps, or going for max reps, then stripping weight off and immediately doing it again.

We’ll deploy these as “extended” drop sets, meaning there is short rest (45-60 seconds) between stripping the weight off and going back at it. This will allow for greater volume/more reps to be accomplished while still inducing heavy metabolic fatigue.

Volume Clusters

Clusters are sets broken up into smaller sets. For example, instead of hitting a set of 8-10, you’d hit smaller sets of 3 reps on 15 seconds rest, looking to achieve more than 8-10 reps. We’re calling them “volume” clusters as the goal is a high number of reps, vs. traditional clusters which are done for strength purposes.

Progressive Overload

The all important principle of progressive overload should be a part of almost all training cycles.

It means simply that each week is a little harder, either moving just a little bit more weight, or doing more total work, or both.

Several movements are set up for the entirety of the 10 weeks with the goal being to add weight and continue hitting the same or greater number of reps. You’ll quickly spot these and it will be noted in the instructions. (Deadlifts, Close grip inclines, Overhead press, bench press singles).

Your Responsibility:

The program is a blueprint.. the one actually doing the work is YOU. You are responsible for reading all instructions for every segment and performing them as described.

This includes listed rest periods between sets, looking to add weight to the bar, and sticking to the protocol. I am available for any questions, and substitute movements are listed should you be unable to perform certain movements.

You’re also responsible for scaling where necessary. If a segment says to perform Dips with 45lbs, and you are not physically capable of that, you should scale to your current ability and aim to add to what you can do the following week.

Lastly, you are responsible for your own effort. Without some fortitude, building muscle is unlikely. It is uncomfortable and you need to push yourself through.

Diet/Nutrition/Supplements

If your goal is to build muscle/size, it will NOT happen if you are not eating at a surplus. Your body needs the resources to build muscle and it needs them consistently.

Building muscle takes considerable energy and resources from the body. It will not be in a hurry to do so. You should be consuming at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That means if you weigh 180lbs, you should be consuming about 140g of protein or more per day.

As far as calories, it depends on how aggressively you’re trying to put on size. If you’re being aggressive, multiply your body weight x 20 and that will be your general daily calorie target. Less aggressive, multiply by 16-18.

A solid approach is to weigh yourself every week first thing in the am. If you’re gaining 1-2lbs/week, you’re on the right track. If your gaining nothing, eat more. If you’re gaining too much, you may be overdoing it.

Using the mirror is also useful. The scale can be misleading. Do you notice a change? Use both as a guide to tweak your nutrition until you get it right.

Supplements

I’m not a big supplement junkie. I’d highly recommend taking Creatine at 5-10g/day, and having a protein supplement to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts. You should strive to get quality protein through your diet first, and then use the supplement.

Carbs are essential in building mass, and i recommend sticking to quality carbs wherever possible, such as oats, rice, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes.

Cardio

How much cardio should you do? It depends on your overall goals.

Excessive cardio is going to pull energy away from the goal of hypertrophy. It will cause interference in what you’re telling your body to do.

At the same time, you never want to ignore your aerobic base. Programmed in is basic, steady state cardio. You can also add in walks 3-5 days per week as well. Hiking, light rucking, and other cardio/active recovery is fine as well. Just don’t overdo it. More is not always better, especially here.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I am glad you’re here. This program will work for you if you do the work. Be consistent, have some discipline and fortitude, and may the iron gods bless you.

Build Muscle Faster with Tempo Training:  3 Methods + Full Workout

Build Muscle Faster with Tempo Training: 3 Methods + Full Workout

If you want to build muscle faster and put on some serious size, you have to train smarter. That means choosing the right methods to use in the gym. And when it comes to packing on slabs of muscle quickly, tempo training is at the top of the list.

In the gym, it’s often not what you do, but how you do it that is most important.

What is Tempo Training?

Tempo training refers to the way that you perform repetitions. There are various ways we can manipulate repetitions on almost any exercise to get a different desired effect from it (hypertrophy, strength, power, etc..)

In general, performing tempo reps means slowing down each repetition on the eccentric (way down), concentric, or both parts of the movement at a specific rate (i.e, 3 seconds up and down, 5 seconds down and quickly back up, etc.)

In this article I’m going to:

  • Explain the benefits of Tempo Training
  • Explain how it builds muscle better than other methods
  • Give 3 specific methods you can use to implement tempo training into your workouts
  • Give you a sample workout using tempo training and the methods discussed.

Benefits of Using Tempo Reps

Using Tempo reps in your training can have several benefits leading to increased muscle mass as well as reduced joint stress and nervous system fatigue.

When incorporating Tempo into my training sessions, I would do so for a specific reason, such as:

  • To add volume in without stressing out the nervous system. Too much max effort lifting can be counterproductive, and tempo training can be a solid compliment to heavy work if you’re looking to put on some size. Using tempo is also self-limiting: You will not be able to lift as much weight when you slow down the tempo.
  • To increase time under tension: Slowing down the tempo will dramatically increase the length of each set. A set of tempo reps can easily extend beyond one minute.
  • To get a massive “pump:” Slowing down reps will create an “occlusion” effect in the muscle, delaying blood from exiting the working muscle. This results in a huge pump and increased metabolic fatigue, both solid stimuli for muscle growth.
  • To get in some training without over-stressing the body: Tempo training isn’t as hard on the body as heavy/max effort lifting. I’d throw temp reps in on a lower intensity/recovery type day to get some volume in without crushing myself.

How Does Tempo Training Increase Muscle Mass?

build muscle fast tempo reps

Performing reps with a slower tempo can cause hypertrophy via several different mechanisms. Most importantly:

  • Increased time under tension
  • Increased metabolic fatigue/stress
  • Occlusion effect

Increased Time Under Tension

Time under tension is self explanatory: The length of time the target muscle(s) are under tension from the exercise being performed during a set.

This is a classic way that bodybuilders have trained for decades to maximize hypertrophy… slowing down repetitions and taking sets to failure.

This isn’t to say that tempo training is the only way to maximize hypertrophy. Heavy reps are equally impactful and necessary for most lifters. Tempo training is simply complimentary to an overall approach to building size and strength.

Increased Metabolic Stress

Rather than giving a lengthy explanation of metabolic stress, I’ll just give you an example:

Take a heavy set of 5-6 reps on barbell biceps curls. Now, contrast that with a set of 15 reps, done at a slow tempo.. say, 4 seconds up and down with lighter weight.

The second set will be brutal, and your arms (and whole upper body probably) will be screaming and on fire. This is metabolic fatigue, caused by accumulation of various by-products of energy production and other factors beyond the scope of this article.

The important point is that metabolic stress is a key marker for muscle growth, causing a spike in anabolic hormones and increased protein synthesis.

Occlusion Effect

Slowing down repetitions without giving the working muscle any rest will lead to an “occlusion” effect on the muscle. This means that blood will be delayed from exiting the muscle as it is forced to remain contracted.

Bodybuilders (and others more recently) have worn occlusion bands to create this same effect, restricting blood flow in the working muscle. Research (such as this study) has shown occlusion training to be effective at stimulating additional muscle growth using lighter weight/higher reps.

The result of the occlusion effect is a lack of oxygen in the muscle, which causes the slow twitch muscle fibers to fatigue quickly, forcing the higher threshold fast twitch muscle fibers to take over.

You’re basically tricking the body into sensing a more challenging stimulus, as if you were lifting much heavier weight. This results in a greater endocrine response (release of anabolic hormones) and increased protein synthesis.

You can grab a solid, inexpensive pair of BFR bands here on Amazon (affiliate link, I’ve used these for years)

3 Methods to Build Muscle Faster Using Tempo Training

I want to give you 3 methods you can use to implement tempo training into your workouts to help you build muscle faster. I’ll include a video demo for each one.

1 – Regular Tempo Reps

The first way to implement tempo training is to simply use traditional tempo reps on one of your lifts during your session.

For this method, simply choose a tempo (3 seconds, 4 seconds, etc..) and perform all repetitions at that tempo, moving both up and down at the desired tempo.

Tempo Incline DB Press

3-4 sets of 8-12 reps should be sufficient. If you want to be a little more hardcore, try taking the last set to failure.

Tempo/Contrast Method

The tempo contrast method is one of my favorites to implement. It combines tempo reps with regular reps within the same set, allowing you to reap the benefits of both tempo and more aggressive lifting.

To perform the Tempo/Contrast method, you’ll choose an exercise, then hit 2 reps at tempo followed by 2 normal repetitions. Then repeat, 2 tempo, 2 regular, until all reps are completed.

Below are 2 examples using the Tempo/Contrast method. Back squat and DB press.

Tempo/Contrast Incline DB Press

You can use the same set/rep scheme as for regular tempo reps, potentially taking the last set to failure. I use these all the time and have gotten solid results from including this method in my training.

Extended Contrast

The third and final example is what I call “Extended Contrast.” In this method, we’ll combine multiple methods within a single set, ending with an isometric contraction that will really test your metal.

To perform an extended contrast set:

  • Choose a weight where you’d probably reach failure in 8-12 reps.
  • Perform 4-6 reps with a 5 second eccentric (way down).
  • When you feel like you’ve only got a few reps left in the tank, begin pressing regular, aggressive reps.
  • When you’re close to failure, take one final rep down very slowly (10 seconds or so).
  • Hold the bottom position isometric contraction for 15-30 seconds.
Extended Contrast Set

These are pretty intense, and I wouldn’t recommend performing more than 1-2 of these in a session.

You can hit 2-3 normal sets or regular tempo sets, and hit one of these as a finisher.

I also prefer to use this method with either DB presses, curls or pulldowns. Some movements would be difficult to perform with an extended isometric contraction at the end.

Sample Session (Chest/Biceps)

Below is a workout sample from the SWOLE TOWN program. I frequently like to mix in these methods in my programming, and if you’re looking for solid programming I highly recommend checking it out.

TRY A FREE WEEK OF SWOLE TOWN.

The last 2 movements (deficit push up/hammer curls) are to be performed as a superset, resting 60-90 seconds after completing both. Videos are below if you don’t know how to perform these.

SETSREPSREST
Barbell Bench
Press
462-3 min
DB Tempo
Hex Press
*4 seconds up/down
**Low incline bench
310-8-Max2 min
Barbell Biceps
Curl
48-8-6-62 min
*Deficit Push ups 3Max90 sec
*DB Hammer Curl312-15
Sample Full Workout (Swole Town)

Conclusion

Here’s a full video on this article if you’re interested:

Adding tempo training into your workouts can have a big impact on muscle growth, and can also serve as way to limit joint stress and over reliance on heavy training.

Remember.. it’s not always about what you do, but how you do it that will have the biggest impact on your results.

With tempo training, we’ve seen that we can increase time under tension, increase metabolic stress and create an occlusion effect, all of which are precursors to muscle growth.

Try adding in some of these methods to your current training split. If it’s new for you, you’ll likely find it quite challenging. But remember, the body does not respond to easy.

I hope you found this article useful. Let me know in the comments below.

Come follow Swole Town over on Instagram (@Swole_Town) and definitely check out the Swole Town programming, delivered through the world’s best training app (TrainHeroic).

Until next time, keep training hard.

You may like: How to get Big arms using BFR Bands

Use Supported Rows for a Bigger, Stronger, Healthier Back.

Use Supported Rows for a Bigger, Stronger, Healthier Back.

Especially if you’re training from the home gym setting, performing your back exercises from a supported position can have a ton of benefits. In this article I’ll explain the benefits of using supported rows and include several supported row variations you can implement into your training to build a bigger, stronger and healthier back.

Performing supported movements can:

  • Force you to pull stricter reps
  • Take stress off the low back
  • Allow you to slow things down and use isometrics/eccentrics
  • Build muscle and make you stronger
  • Improve Mind-Muscle Connection (Yes, it’s a real thing)

Hear me out

When it comes to back training, we’ve all spent considerable time banging out many variations of barbell and dumbbell rows, deadlifts, pull ups, etc..

and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.. those are the staple movements that build a big, strong back and put on slabs of muscle.

But try a simple experiment out for yourself:

Take what you normally use for dumbbell rows and try to perform them in a chest supported position. You’ll likely find that you cannot move the same weight, and that you’ll have to use much lighter weight to perform a set. Why is that?

This is because in the chest supported position, you cannot use any momentum to perform the movement. You can’t cheat, and that means the back is going to have to be responsible for pulling that weight.

Improved Contractile Abilities

Performing stricter reps will force the back muscles to generate the force to pull the weight. Coupled with a brief isometric squeeze at the top, you’ve got a powerful recipe for both muscle growth and strength in those muscles.

If the back muscles are used to having assistance in pulling weight, performing strict reps will be shockingly hard. Getting stronger from this position can go a long way in taking your strength up a notch (and subsequently, can result in some serious gainz as well.)

Mind-Muscle Connection

The mind-muscle connection is simply your ability to focus specifically on the target muscle you’re trying to use.

With a muscle like the Biceps, this can be done pretty easily. However, when targeting the large muscles of the upper back, it can be a little more challenging.

Supported row variations coupled with a brief isometric pause in the squeeze position will really force you to be aware of the muscles working hard when you pull. This can be extremely helpful across all of your back training.

The ability to establish that connection with the muscle is what will take your gains to the next level.

5 Supported Back Exercises for Strength and Size.

Here are 5 supported variations that I use all the time that have been really great additions to my training, and for those I’ve trained.

If you want to take your back workouts to the next level, I highly suggest implementing some or all of these, keeping what resonates most with you and your training goals.

1 – Chest Supported DB Rows

As stated previously, these take all the cheating out of the movement, and so you’ll find you have to use lighter weight than you’re used to with regular DB rows.

Perform these on a low incline bench, slightly elevating the chest to get a deeper squeeze.

Mind-Muscle Connection in Action.

Note how there’s a brief pause at the top. This is a critical part of the movement and in training the mind-muscle connection.

This is more difficult to do with traditional rows, as you’re using momentum and pulling faster reps, and pausing can place unnecessary stress on the low back.

With supported DB rows, you can really hold that squeeze and feel the upper back muscles working hard.

These are best performed in the middle or end of a session, for 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps, emphasizing the squeeze and hold at the top.

You can use different grips (prone, reverse, neutral) and pull with elbows in or slightly out to hit the back a bit differently. I personally feel these the most with a reverse (supinated) grip, but everyone’s different.

2 – Seal Rows

Seal Rows are performed from a horizontal position on a bench. To accomplish this, you’ll likely have to elevate a flat bench on 2 platforms. I usually just stack plates up, which gets the job done.

You’ll lie flat holding a pair of dumbbells and pull the elbows back and up to a deep squeeze in the upper back.

You can change the angle of the dumbbells and your elbows to get a slightly different pull, and you should try out different angles to see which you feel the most.

I like these for sets of 8-12 reps, really focusing on the squeeze. If you can’t pull to a good squeeze at the top, the weight is too heavy and you should go a little lighter.

Lose the ego in the gym and focus on doing things right.

3 – Head Supported Barbell Rows

These are one of my favorite variations, and I frequently use these instead of traditional barbell rows.

The biggest advantage these give you is taking some stress off the low back. For many people, the low back fatigues before anything else when performing heavy rows, and that defeats the purpose of the movement and doesn’t allow you to attack the upper back like you need to.

Establish a solid base, with your head against a solid structure (a padded barbell works fine). Keep your neck in a neutral position and avoid flexing or jerking the neck.

Head Supported Barbell Row

You can pull from pins/safety spotters or the floor with these, which is really great because it forces you to pull from a dead stop (no momentum) and also allows you to briefly reset on each rep.

These can be performed just like seal rows, from a horizontal position, or from a slightly elevated angle.

Eccentric/Isometric Supported DB Rows

Using eccentric/isometric reps can be brutal. These will build a mind-muscle connection better than anything else I can think of when it comes to back training.

You’ll pull to a deep squeeze, hold the squeeze for 2-3 seconds, then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position (about 3-5 seconds on the eccentric).

Eccentric/Isometric dumbbell rows

Performing reps in this style will create a ton of metabolic stress, inducing an “occlusion” effect, in which blood is delayed from exiting the muscle.

This causes the fast twitch muscle fibers to take over and also results in a huge pump, both of which are highly conducive to muscle growth.

Perform these in sets of 6-10 reps, focusing on quality over heavy weight.

Supported Variations with a Rear Delt Focus

The Rear Delts should be worked more than any other part of the shoulder. Why?

Because the Rear Delts are highly active both during back training and during your pressing movements, in particular when you bench press.

Strong Rear Delts are crucial for the health of your shoulders. And if you want a big bench press, you’ll pay plenty of attention to them.

Supported High Elbow Rows (Rear Delts)

If we want to shift the focus onto the Rear Delts (which you should be doing often), I’ve got 2 options from a supported position that are killer.

The first option is to pull high elbow rows from the bench supported position.

Supported High Elbow Rows (Rear Delts)

Elevating the chest slightly will allow for a deeper pull. These will quickly have your Rear Delts on fire.

I like these for 12-15 Reps, usually towards the end of a session, or as a warm up on a pressing day.

Heavy Partials – Rear Delt Raises

Heavy Partials can be a great addition to your training, and can be a brutal way to finish a session off.

For these, I’ll take a pair of dumbbells heavier than I could normally pull full reps with, and perform partial reps in a “swinging” motion.

I like these as a finisher, for 1-2 max effort sets to failure, usually 30-50 reps. Prepare to be on fire.

You can also simply perform supported Rear Delt Raises as well..

Supported Rear Delt Raises

You might Like: “Get Stronger Faster with Cluster Sets”

Sample Back Workout using Supported Row Variations

Here’s one sample of a Back training session from the SWOLE TOWN program, where I like to throw in Supported variations frequently.

I’m not including the Prep Work (Warm-up), however you should always warm up before training, and prep work is always included in the Swole Town programming for every session.

SETSREPSREST
Head Supported
Barbell Rows
552-3 min
Kroc Rows21 warm up
1 x max reps
3-5 min
Weighted Chin
ups
532 min
Rear Delt Heavy
Partials
2Max Reps2 min
Supported Rear
Delt Raises
1Max Reps
Sample Swole Town Training Session

Check out Swole Town

If you like the methods described in this article, come take a free trial of the Swole Town Program.

Swole Town is a training team, with full daily programming, demo videos, a coach and a badass plan to get jacked as hell.

Conclusion

Supported Rows are a crucial addition to your back training days. As we discussed, performing supported movements can take stress off the low back and force you to pull stricter reps.

They can also dramatically improve the mind-muscle connection, which will enhance your training immensely.

I hope this article was helpful, and as always I really hope it helped get you a little bit closer to that best version of yourself.

Until next time, train hard and never stop learning!

Coach Mike/Swole Town
Coach Mike/Swole Town

Bioforce Certified Conditioning coach, Trainer. Federal Law Enforcement Agent, Army Reserve Infantryman 11B. Husband, Father, Brother, Son, Friend.

Coach: Swole Town Training Program

Training For the Tactical Athlete:  Samples from The Tactical Alpha Program

Training For the Tactical Athlete: Samples from The Tactical Alpha Program

As a tactical athlete, the stakes are high, and your level of fitness should be of the highest priority. For those entering an academy or basic training and wanting to excel, you’ll need a well rounded base of fitness.

For those that want to stand out and not just make it through, TACTICAL ALPHA is definitely for you. It’s time to lead the pack. BE THE ALPHA!

What Does a Tactical Athlete Need?

What attributes define a high level tactical athlete?

You must be well rounded in all markers of fitness.. This means you don’t have to excel in any one area, but you have to be good across all of them. In particular, I’d want to see:

  • High Aerobic Power
  • High level of strength-endurance
  • Strength in the big compound movement patterns (squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, pull up)
  • Mobility and durability: High level of work capacity and general physical preparedness.
  • Ability to generate power repeatedly (power-endurance)
  • Mental Resiliency: Ability to operate under extreme stress and fatigue.
tactical athlete pyramid

This may seem like a lot, and it is. Therefore, having a solid program is paramount in building yourself into a well-rounded machine.

A balance of strength work, conditioning and recovery is needed to ensure progress without burning yourself out.

My personal view of a tactical athlete is reflected in my programming. I visualize someone who has some muscle and enough size to look like they shouldn’t be messed with.

They should be lean, strong and able to run a 6 minute mile. They should be tenacious and able to continue working under extreme fatigue and mental stress. And they should be STRONG.

Get Stronger

Without a doubt, getting stronger must be a priority for any tactical athlete. That goes for a police officer as much as for a military athlete or firefighter.

The problem I’ve seen with a lot of programs is that this is taken to extremes to the point that some look more like bodybuilding or powerlifting programs, neglecting other critical aspects of tactical fitness.

Yes, you’ll look good.. but you’ll be a 4 cylinder Prius pretending to be a V8 SRT, and it won’t take long to be exposed.

Another problem is the type of strength being focused on. There MUST be a heavy focus on strengthening the core/trunk.

Tactical athletes often have to carry awkward loads over unknown terrain and distances. They may have to operate wearing heavy gear for long periods of time.

Again, weaknesses will be exposed, either in the form of injuries or simply breaking down and being unable to perform.

Improve Conditioning – Methods

Interval Sprinting

Tactical Alpha is a strength AND conditioning program. Out of a desire to remain big and strong and still be able to MOVE, I created this style of programming through a little bit of trial and error and a lot of research.

In basic training, at the age of 34, I was able to run sub-6 minute miles at 240lbs.

It was not easy to get to that point, but the methods used were sound and very effective.

I simply cut out most of the frequent, longer distance running that put a lot of recovery stress on the body, and implemented high intensity interval sprints, working up to about 8-10 x 400 meter sprints by the end of a 3 month training program.

These were supplemented with full body conditioning (see below) to great effect. This was to become the foundation of my programming.

The high intensity nature of the interval sprints allows us to gain a huge benefit in the form of aerobic power and mental toughness, while only having to perform them once every 7-9 days, or even less than that.

Full Body Conditioning

Aside from the sprints, full body high intensity conditioning is implemented with similar goals in mind.. To improve aerobic power and teach the body to clear lactate more efficiently. It isn’t mindless “WOD’s.” It’s purposeful, progressive conditioning.

Here’s an example of a Full-body conditioning session I used in the early days of Tactical Alpha.

These full body conditioning sessions use full body movements that are very taxing on the body. Therefore, we do NOT need to implement them more than once per week to gain a massive benefit from them.

Many people suffer from the mistake of performing TOO MUCH high intensity training, which only ends up hurting your progress in the long run.

Core Strength

Core strength is a misunderstood element of fitness. A strong core does not come from performing sit ups. It comes from forcing the trunk to stabilize heavy loads, as you would see in a movement like the Zercher Squat or heavy loaded carries.

Below is a Zercher Squat. Holding the weight out in front forces your core/trunk to work extremely hard to stabilize and maintain upright posture. All of the muscles in the core and the stabilizing muscles of the upper back are working overtime in movements like this.

Loaded Carries

Loaded carries are another staple set of exercises that don’t get nearly the attention they deserve. For a tactical athlete, these are a crucial addition to your training.

Below are two examples utilized in the Tactical Alpha program of effective loaded carry variations: Single Arm Overhead Carries and Farmer Carries

Get a Solid Program

Training with a structured program is always going to yield better results than just going at it alone.

This is even more true for a well designed, progressive program. Knowing exactly what you need to do each day and being able to measure progress will allow you to completely rebuild your engine and become an all around better, more complete tactical athlete.

There are many programs out there, but I’ll stand by Tactical Alpha against any of them.

I’ve used it on myself multiple times to great effect and have utilized the same programming with other athletes as well, always with great results.

The program is delivered through the TrainHeroic App. Every movement has a video demonstration and each training day is fully explained.

You also have access to a coach. It is an unbeatable value and a priceless tool for anyone serious about taking their performance to the next level.

Like they say.. Everyone wants to be a beast.. ’till it’s time to do what beasts do. If you’re ready to take yourself to the next level, we’re right here waiting.

tactical fitness athlete

Also, if You’ve read this far, I’ll reward you by offering you a 40% off code for the program. This isn’t a gimmick.. People pay the full price, but if you read this far you’re obviously serious about something, and at the end of the day I’d love to help you achieve your goals and beyond.

CODE: TacAlpha22: 40% off of an already very fairly priced elite program.

Conclusion

The Tactical Athlete must possess a high level of ability across the entire spectrum of fitness;  Aerobic power, strength, speed, strength-endurance and mobility.  

A police officer may need to chase a suspect, then engage in a physical altercation, all while wearing gear. A military athlete may need to sprint, under fire, to a fallen soldier, then carry him/her to cover, while wearing full kit. Firefighters may spend long periods of time with heavy gear on, handling heavy, awkward equipment and running in and out of dangerous situations.

When you need it the most, your level of fitness might just be what makes the difference between success and failure,,, life and death. However you decide to go about it, treat it as a high priority and get yourself a solid plan. Best of luck to you, and if you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email: Contact@supastrong.net

SupaStrong
SupaStrong

Bioforce Certified Conditioning coach, Trainer. Federal Law Enforcement Agent, Army Reserve Infantryman 11B. Husband, Father, Brother, Son, Friend.

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