Now you're going for a different type of adaptation. You're working faster, sweating more, and creating a metabolic disruption that will cause some fat to melt off. (My colleague, Craig Ballantyne, *, has a fat-burning program he calls Turbulence Training, for this reason.) You're also, most likely, generating a considerable growth-hormone response to your program, and that's going to help your body use even more fat for energy.
Let's say you can do that for three weeks before you're absolutely sick of working yourself into a clammy-skinned froth every time in the gym. You'd pay the world's greatest trainer a year's wages to give you a new workout. In fact, you're so burned out that you take two full weeks off from training. Then, at the end of the second week of loafing (wasting time by helping your kids with their homework, volunteering at the animal shelter, or distributing blankets to the poor—anything to keep you out of the gym), you hit on a new way to tweak your workout.
Change the exercises
Now, charged up by the fact you get to do new exercises (and feeling refreshed after two weeks away from the weights), you start the workout over again, and progress through all the configurations: 3 X 10, 4 X 8, 5 X 5, 8 X 3, Turbulence. Let's say you do each for two weeks this time, and take two more weeks off at the end, because training that hard still kicks your ass, as it should. So let's review:
Weeks 1-13: Worked with progressively heavier weights, increased sets, decreased repetitions. You steadily increased your strength and muscle mass but probably added some body fat, particularly in the later weeks.
Weeks 14-16: Switched to an intense, metabolism-disrupting, growth-hormone-generating, fat-melting program.
Weeks 17-18: Took time off for rest, recovery, and making the world a better place. Weeks 19-28: Went through the cycle again, this time with different exercises. Weeks 29-30: Took two more weeks off to save your body and improve the lives of those less fortunate than you.
You get back from vacation, and you're ready for new challenges in the gym. So you pick up your workout again, and you write out new exercises for yourself to do. But before you go to the gym with your new exercises and run through all the configurations again, you think about what you've liked and haven't liked about your previous months of workouts.
By this point, you've gotten to know your body pretty well, and you know that on certain exercises, you just don't seem to get much benefit from lifting really heavy weights with low reps. And, on others, the higher-rep sets don't seem to offer much benefit. You can't, for example, think of any reason to do three sets of ten deadliftts, or even 4 X 8. You know your form would slip anytime you got past the fifth repetition, so you think, "I should start deadliftts with 5 X 5."
Then you think about some other exercises you do, and realize that you can think of lots of better ways to do them. Sometimes, on assistance exercises, it's clear to you that you can get all the benefits of the exercise with a single, all-out set. On others, you do better with more sets but fewer reps.
So you organize all the exercises you like and seem to benefit from. You add the exercises you've always wanted to try but haven't fit into your program. You take the most important exercises, the structural ones, and put them first in your workout. Then you put the assistance exercises after them. And you configure the sets and reps according to how important the exercise is to you and how much benefit you think you get from it.
Then you realize that you have too many exercises and sets to do in a single workout, so you create a split routine, and decide you're going to do more sets, with fewer weights and heavier weights, of the structural exercises at the beginning of each workout. And you're going to do more reps, with fewer sets and lighter weights, of the assistance exercises.
Furthermore, you realize that you'd really like to improve your strength, and so you decide you're going to go all the way down to single-rep sets on the squat, dead-lift, and bench press. You give yourself until the end of the year to do this, and you devise a way to change your workout every three weeks so you can gradually increase the weights and decrease the reps on your key structural exercises.
Now you not only have a split workout, you have a split workout that changes every three weeks to help you get the adaptations you want.
Fast-forward to January 2 of the following year. You run into your hypothetical best trainer in the world, and he looks at you and says, "Holy shizzle! Look at you! You've gained at least twenty pounds of muscle, and your waist is smaller!"
You tell him you've actually gained twenty-one pounds of muscle, put three-quarters of an inch on your arms, and lost two inches off your waist. You feel better than you ever have in your life, and just a few weeks earlier, you set personal records in the bench press, squat, and deadlift.
"I knew I was brilliant," the trainer says. "In fact, the whole world knows that, since my mom posted it on the Internet. My first three wives left me because they said they couldn't possibly rise to my level of perfection. But even I didn't know I could write a single workout that would transform a sorry schlub like you into the halfway-decent-looking person standing before me and basking in my reflected glory."
Then the trainer looks down at the workout sheets you printed out and carry on a clipboard. "What's that?"
"That's your workout." You see the look of confusion on his face. "Oh, I changed a few things," you add. "Like the sets. And reps. And exercises. And I made split routines. And I change them every three weeks so I can keep making adaptations. Other than that, it's exactly what you gave me a year ago."
"Of course it is!" the trainer agrees. Then he makes photocopies of all your workout sheets and uses them to train the rest of his clients.
But, of course, it's not his at all. You've taken a single workout and transformed it into a genuine program, based on your abilities, your goals, and your strengths and weaknesses.
In other words, you've taken a rib cage, and from it you've created a living, breathing organism.
And you've also proved that you're smarter than the world's greatest trainer.
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Use the same methods the American Navy Seals use to get fit and become the elite enforcers in the world today! The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide has been prepared for the SEAL community with several goals in mind. Our objective is to provide you, the operator, with information to help: Enhance the physical abilities required to perform Special Operations mission-related physical tasks Promote long-term cardiovascular health and physical fitness Prevent injuries and accelerate return to duty Maintain physical readiness under deployed or embarked environments.