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The Workout From Hell
By John Long
The "Workout from Hell" (WFH), is not my invention (though the name is), nor was it designed for climbers; but having struggled through it, I'm confident the training will work like magic for any climber. Be forewarned: it is time-consuming and arduous.
Some months ago when I began competitive flatwater kayaking, a professional trainer -sort of an iron guru-was assigned to me, with direct orders to whip me into race shape. As I've done my time in the gym, the notion of a special weight geek shadowing me seemed absurd. Just type up the routine and I'll do it myself! WRONG. My "trainer" was no geek, and whatever he was doing worked, because pound for pound, he was the strongest fellow I'd ever seen. More that just an "iron rat", he had recently run a2:37 marathon. I never would have made it through the workout's first phase had he not been on my case. On occasion, I wanted to kill that man. Now I'd buy him the moon if I could afford it.
I was the first guinea pig my trainer put through the WFH, a cruel experiment combining various strategies and philosophies, proven and otherwise.
The routine is strictly a weight program designed tosignificantly increase both strength and endurance, with no increase in body weight (providing you watch your diet). High strength to weight ratio is the ideal for flatwater kayaking, as well as climbing. No doubt someone, somewhere, has gone through a similar "progressive" program, but was considerate enough to keep it a relative secret!
This routine assumes certain physiological laws and techniqueswhich are often ignored by climbers, though they are followed religiously by serious lifters. And the "WFH" is dead serious.
First Law: You train the WHOLE physique, not just the muscles associated with climbing or kayaking movements. If you neglect training the antagonistic muscles, an imbalanced, injury-prone machine results. It's fine to center on sport specific muscles, but not to theexclusion of the rest of your body!
Second Law: Pick a muscle group, do exercises which best isolate those muscles, then trash them.
Third Law: Allow the muscles at least 48 hours to recover before blasting them again.
Ignore any of these precepts and you'll get something less than the maximum results. No one of flesh and blood can avoid it.
Phase I
2 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off.That means 4 days a week in the gym. Day 1 you work back and chest; Day 2, shoulders and arms. Then take a day off. Repeat the process before enjoying 2 days off.
DAY ONE: (Back and Chest) Crank 3 sets of 4 back exercises, equaling a total of 12 sets. Of the many back exercises, concentrate on the primary ones: Pull-downs, cable rows, T-bar rows, and maybe 1 final set on a machine (or wide-gripchins). 3 sets of 4 exercises applies to the chest as well. Again, go with free-weight exercises, which tend to be more effective than machines. I usually did flys, flat-back and incline dumbbell presses and finished on the pec-deck. You can consider the last exercises a bonus and change it weekly to add variety.
DAY TWO: (Shoulders and Arms) 3 sets of 4 exercises for shoulders, (12 total). 3sets of 3 exercises for both biceps and triceps, (9 sets for both). Again, concentrate on the grueling, primary exercises: Seated military presses, standing cable rows, and lateral dumbbell raises for the shoulders (plus you bonus machine exercise); preacher E-Z bar curls, seated dumbbell curls, etc... for the guns; close-grip presses, standing (with bar or rope) and flat back extensions for thetriceps.
A Note: "Primary" simply refers to the motions which bomb the muscles most effectively - the basic, fundamental movements. The refining exercises (like concentration curls and cable cross-overs) are not part of this routine. Fact is, no one short of the bionic man would have enough gas to bother with anything beyond the recommended sets.
"The crux": You must do 30 reps per set! Yes.....
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