There’s no one way to achieving incredible gains, but there are five rules of super strength that you need to abide by.
Rethink everything you know about fitness. With these revolutionary methods, you’ll be ripped and ready for anything.
For John Schaeffer, a former world champion powerlifter and kickboxer, fatigue isn’t just the result of exercise; it’s the goal.
And anyone who doubts his methods need only consider the accomplishments of the athletes he has trained, including eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno, world heavyweight boxer Alexander Zolkin and 2013 NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy.
Learn his five training secrets to unlock your own potential and take your workouts to a whole new level.
1. The fuel rule: don’t be afraid of fat
“The thing that most radically improves athletes’ performance is proper nutrition,” says Schaeffer, who developed the recipe below to help clients push harder in workouts and recover faster afterwards.
“Most of the kilojoules come from high-quality fats, a more efficient source of energy than carbs,” he says. “Plus, your body is actually less likely to store fat as fat.”
Make cookies: Combine one cup raw oats, four tablespoons coconut oil, two tablespoons whey protein and one cup applesauce. That makes four servings (no baking). Eat one, wait an hour and hit the gym.
2. The clock rule: brief workouts are the best
Muscle growth and fat loss are proportional to hours spent lifting, right? “They’re not,” says Schaeffer. He points to Ohno’s workouts leading up to the 2010 Olympics, which rarely lasted longer than 30 minutes. “But he did more in that time than most guys do in two hours,” Schaeffer says. “Workout density trumps duration because it forces you to keep the intensity high.”
Cut waste: Slice “fat” from your workouts – that is, socialising at the water fountain, chatting up the brunette on the treadmill and watching SuperSport highlights. Then give your rest periods the same attention you do sets and reps. “Keep them to 30 seconds or less,” says Schaeffer.
3. The brain rule: reaction speed can be trained
A brain that can process what it sees and respond quickly has an edge. “You can grab a steal, tip a pass or land a jump faster and more efficiently than your opponent,” says Schaeffer. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reports that NBA players with faster reaction times log better stats. “It’s a game changer for athletes,” says Schaeffer. “But it can help regular guys do better in everyday tasks, from driving to kid watching.”
Hone your reflexes: Face a buddy from 10m away. Close your eyes and have him bounce a tennis ball to you, yelling “left” or “right”. When he does, open your eyes and catch it with that hand. Training solo? Use a wall.
4. The rest rule: pack in more work
No matter how hard you go in the gym, you can probably go harder. The reason: You set the weight down between sets. “Staying under load for the entire exercise and then immediately doing one set of a ballistic move – like explosive step-ups or push-ups – will recruit dormant motor neurons and condition your body to recover under stress,” says Schaeffer. “It will also trigger a surge of muscle-building hormones.”
Mix it up: Add Killer Combos to your fitness plan. “These can be very difficult, mentally and physically,” says Schaeffer. “So don’t just grind through them. Focus on good form.” If you feel your form slipping, use less weight.
5. The finishing rule: if you end slow, you’ll be slow
Many guys think of strength and cardio as separate entities. But interval training can be beneficial at the end of a resistance workout. “Your body remembers and adapts to what it does last in a training session,” Schaeffer says. “If you end slow, you’ll be slow. That’s why my athletes finish their workouts with speed work.”
Hit the afterburners: When the last lift or rep is done, hop on a treadmill, rower or Airdyne bike for five to 10 intervals. “For each interval, sprint all out for 30 seconds and recover 30 seconds,” says Schaeffer. “But don’t dial it back too much during the recovery.”