If you’re looking for a bad time…..try this!


Because my wife and I are expecting our first child in less than a month we've both decided to take a year hiatus from serious athletic pursuits since the competitive season calendar of our current sport of choice came at an inconvenient time (now) and competing was quite time intensive. As a result, I've been taking a much less structured approach to training for the past couple months. I still work out every day but now my workouts are typically an hour or less (as opposed to 2-3) and I'm not following a structured periodization plan. Well yesterday I headed in to the gym with an idea that had crept in to my head a couple months before. Many of these workouts I came up with were influenced by crossfit, military (I coach for Army), gymnastic, or combative training concepts. The original idea stemmed from some preseason workout alternatives I was playing around with for some of my athletes but never had a chance to implement. When I was originally tossing around some of these alternative workout plans my objective was increasing general fitness and work capacity while also enhancing endocrine profile and cardio-pulmonary capacity.

I came up with a couple of these workouts and actually ended up doing most of them myself in the early fall. I didn't do one of the workouts though. In fact, I knew it was likely the most challenging and I kept putting it off. For some reason, yesterday I decided to do the workout and about 20% of the way through the workout I was painfully reminded why I kept avoiding it during the fall. The workout consists of the following four exercises done in sequence for a step-down ladder set-rep scheme of 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 completing the entire workout series as quickly as possible (for time).

  1. Power Clean @ 75% BW (from the floor, full catch and stand up) 
  2. Pullups (all the way down, all the way up)
  3. Squat @ 125% BW (using a butt-touch on 4 kg medball to ensure full depth)
  4. Bench Press @ 100% BW 

Before starting the only guidelines I gave myself (other than those for the specific exercises) was that I couldn't move to the next exercise until I had finished all reps on the current exercise. Half way through the second set (the one of 9 reps) my heart rate was racing and I was questionning whether I should keep going. I did and I am really paying for it today. I'm pretty sure I have a mild case of rhabdomyolysis and I'm certain I have a severe case of regret. Every movement I do is a reminder of my stupidity.  

The workout was one of the more challenging ones I've done. Despite the loads not being too great, the combination of the full-body exercises, the lack of rest periods, and the higher reps makes it very hard. From a periodized training standpoint it would be quite difficult to fit in to a plan for a speed-power athlete and the workout itself is actually very counter to many of my own training philosophies (at least as they apply to speed-power athletes). For one, I typically don't like high rep sets especially in the Olympic lifts.

If you're up for a challenge…try this one out. I think it would be great for combat sport athletes or those in the military. In recommending it to you I feel kinda like the kid in the high school cafeteria who takes a bite of the mystery meat, turns to his friend and says, "DAAAAMN…..this tastes like SH*T….EAT IT!"  As I said, the workout won't fit well in to the training program of most track athletes but it could certainly be used as a 'gut check' workout and an interesting challenge…maybe even as a punishment workout using a set time as a cutoff.

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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young


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Mike Young
Mike Young