I’ve had a lot of success with consolidated workouts over the years, so wanted to speak to them here. First, let’s define our terms. Consolidated training means cutting your exercise selection back to 2, 3, maybe 4 big movements at the most. These are incredibly demanding exercises and require a great deal of mental as well as physical effort. Let’s look at an example, here we have a full-body workout consisting of just 4 exercises that work the entire body. You’ll notice there are no curls, tricep kickbacks, leg extensions or like isolation exercises that deliver little bang for your buck. At first glance, most of my trainees say, “That’s it”? Yeah, that’s it. Until you try it. Here’s what you’re in for:
- 20 rep breathing squats
- 20 rep breathing pullovers
Chinups are placed first because they require the most energy of all the upper body movements. You for sure wouldn’t want to try them after 20 rep squats – you’d be wiped out. Dips are up next, a movement that’s been favorably compared to the upper body squat. 20 rep breathing squats are man-makers, and with any amount of challenging weight will put weight on a rake. The pullovers are done with a lightweight/straight arms, such that they expand the rib cage after heavy breathing squats. And you’ll for sure be huffing and puffing like a locomotive by the time you hobble over to perform them.
Despite just using 4 exercises, this workout takes around an hour. Why so long? Well, after you’ve built up to some pretty impressive poundages, you need to warm up progressively. I dip with in excess of 100lbs for example, so it takes time to build up to that weight before I launch into my work set.
REST BETWEEN SETS
You should be resting at least 3 minutes between sets. 5 or more if you really want to be at your strongest. This, due to the fact your CNS takes longer to recover vs. the muscles. Muscle takes around 3 minutes to recover the spent chemical energy (ATP, etc). The CNS takes much, much longer. The former Soviet teams waited up to 20 min! and used visualization techniques during that time. It allowed them to crush their own records and the proof’s in the pudding: The U.S. got its clock cleaned (and still does) at international competitions.
Observe how this differs from the “typical” chest routine you’ll see in most gyms. That usually consists of 4 sets of flat bench, 3 sets of inclines, 3 sets of flyes and 2-3 sets of cable crossovers. Then they hit arms, LOL. These guys are wasting their time on flyes and cable crossovers IMO, they’d be much better served to pour themselves into the first two exercises and cut the workout then and there. They’d grow faster.
Unfortunately, consolidation routines are often looked at as the last resort for most trainees. They should be among the first places you look to get back on track. These needn’t be HIT one set to failure affairs either, and their merit was seen by everyone from Arthur Jones, to Mike Mentzer to Perry Rader. 2-3 hard work sets in the 4-8 rep range is plenty. Pouring yourself into these 2-3 sets is FAR superior, vs. spreading your intensity out over 12-13 sets in a typical workout. There’s just no comparison...
If you’ve been struggling to make progress and looking for a better answer, give this consolidation routine a try. Don’t add work, pour yourself into progressive poundages and watch yourself grow. Quality resources in this area are “Super Squats”, by Randall J. Strossen and “Hardgainer”, by Stuart McRobert. Both are must-reads, IMO and have changed the lives of many. That’s no understatement.
There is beauty in simplicity, and you’d be wise to put this information into practice.
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