Turbulence Training’s Big Five System

We’re back today with Kate Vidulich the creator of 31 Fat Loss Accelerators, she also is a Master Certified Turbulence trainer.  In part part 1, Kate and I talk a little about how I got into personal training and how things evolved from there.

Today,  we’ll continue the journey explaining how I came to develop some of the bodyweight workouts for Men’s Health magazine.


Kate: Yes. Don’t you get this question a ton from trainers? But how on earth did you get onto Men’s Health Magazine? What does that relationship mean to your clients’ results and then to your business?

Craig: Well, I’m like the worse person to ask on how you get into magazines because all I did, I was just completely surfing and scanning the internet for opportunities back then to be a writer because I really, really am a nerd at heart and I loved to do writing and research and all this stuff. I happened across the NSCA Job Board. So I was a national Certified Strength and Conditioning specialist, NSCSCS, and they had a job board and Lou Schuler, the Men’s Health Fitness Editor posted a call for articles on the site. That was it.

So I just sent him one of my newsletters with the shoulder frame article and I really lucked at the start of the line because he was really looking into new training ways and the way that I was training back then was exactly what he was looking for.

Then all I did from there that really kept me in the Men’s Health game was I would get back to these people really fast and they are overworked and underpaid. Magazine people, I feel so bad for them. For anybody that has deadlines, magazine editors have it ten times worse.

So they have super deadlines, they’re working with people who are busy and don’t understand this and don’t get back to them so they miss their deadlines and then people get upset with them because something’s not this in the magazine that they say they didn’t say but the writer was rushed. So all I did was get back to people in a timely fashion.

It allowed me to build a relationship, to build a semi career out of doing that and that really allowed me to stand out in front of my peers as being this guy who’s always in Men’s Health Magazine. That was back in the day before a lot of other trainers were getting in. Now there are a lot of great trainers in Men’s Health Magazine but there’s much more, greater variety now.

Back in the day, there wasn’t as many experts in it so I really got a lot of airtime with the magazine and it really, really helped bring Turbulence Training to work, to the world because I started working on the Men’s Health Forum, answering questions, and that’s when I started selling my first online manuals, which was in January or February of 2001. I wasn’t even selling Turbulence Training until 2003.

But that’s when I boosted my credibility. It got me to take Turbulence Training to the world. It helped me start my transformations contests. I was even doing free transformation contests for Men’s Health back in 2005 and 2006. It helped me understand how to run those contests, which have been a really big boost to Turbulence Training.

That’s where we had so many of our success stories and then where some of our certified Turbulence trainers come from, including Katherine Gordon who is not only my favourite transformation winner but one of our most high energy and positive certified Turbulence trainers. Like I mentioned before, she started her little studio out in Sonora, California—I believe it’s Sonora or Sonoma, whichever one is smaller—and she’s filled that out.

She’s been TT Trainer of the Year and she’s just been like a rocket ship to the moon. She’s done really great work but it all started with her entering my second transformation contest.  And the winner of our first transformation contest, I don’t know if you’ve ever met her in Fitness Business Summit, but her name is Emily

Johnson and she runs a Fit and Body boot camp up in the Seattle area. She wasn’t a personal trainer at all either before she entered the Turbulence Training contest. So that was really, really cool to see how people start Turbulence Training, enter a contest, and the next thing you know is they’re impacting people and part of our 10 Million Transformation Mission, which is so important to me.

So all of that stuff combined really started with Men’s Health and I’m just so lucky. That’s when I started developing all my crazy bodyweight workouts because so many Men’s Health readers said they didn’t have any equipment. That’s when I came up with Six-Month Bodyweight Manual back in 2006. We should maybe talk about some of those workouts now.

Kate: Yeah, what’s an example of the crazy bodyweight workout that you created for the Men’s Health folks?

Craig: Well, the best stuff that I’ve put together, you can’t really train your back without pull-up bars or the Smith Machine Bar or now the TRX is really popular so you have to have that in play. But even if you don’t, you can use my Big Five System, which is a squat movement into a push, into a pull, into a single-leg exercise, and then into a total body torso-training exercise. Now that’s my big five.

I also have the Big Six where you add a jump onto the front. So you do some kind of jump training. It could be jumping jacks for intermediate beginner or it could be box jumps for intermediate advanced, or prisoner squat jumps which is probably my favourite vertical jump exercise because you don’t jump as high but it’s still a very demanding exercise.

And then you go into a squat movement which could be two-legged squat or a single-leg Bulgarian split squat if you’re advanced, then you go into either a push or a pull. I mentioned push at first but if you do have any weight, you’ll want to do the pull first because you’ll be doing either dumbbell rows, or chin-ups or pull-ups, or inverted rows, and then you’ll want to have your forearms time to rest before you get into the single-leg exercises where you might be holding weights, too.

So you push next, which can be push-ups, dumbbell chest presses, overhead press. Sorry, if we’re using bodyweight only, it’ll be just push-ups, knee pike push-ups, pike push-ups, elevated push-ups, closed grip, triceps push-ups, anything really cool like that.

Then we go into single-leg exercise which could be one-leg RDL, depending if you want to hit hamstrings, or one-leg just rolling to a leg curl if you want to hit hamstrings, or it could be a lunge or reverse or diagonal, or it could be, as you’ve learned this past weekends, for our single leg progressions we go one leg lying hip extension, then we go into a standing split squat with balanced support, and then after somebody has improved at that, we get to do split squats where there is no stepping.

You’re in just in that position and your feet stay planted on the floor and you do that exercise. You could add resistance.

Then we go into a reverse lunge before you do forward lunges because I truly believe that the forward lunge is so over-prescribed, particularly among beginners and intermediate. People are falling all over the place and they aren’t ready to do lunges yet. So we start them all the way back, single leg hip extension, split squat with support, split squat with resistance, reverse lunge because the lead leg, the working leg, is stationary.

Then we get into, we might even go into step ups next. Then we get into forward lunges. So forward lunges are an advanced exercise that should not be over-prescribed and that is a really big stickler point with me. You know this week now I’ve spent so much time going through the form on the most important exercises from of my big previous Big Five and how important form is to me. We can talk about that in a bit where we get to more bodyweight workouts but using that Big Five System is a really great way to build big bodyweight workouts, total body bodyweight workouts to help get your clients results at any level there.

Kate: Yeah, I certainly agree with you, particularly with the forward lunge, Craig, because if your clients are getting knee pains and they’re having issues with the lunge, they’re not going to want to do it and then they’re going to get injured, and then they’re not going to come back. So I think that’s something else that people forget about, is that if you can progress people too quickly and over-prescribe forward lunges, people are just going to end up getting hurt. They’re not going to see results and then they’re not going to come back and then it’s all trouble.

So this past weekend at the TT Certification, I really appreciated how you’re such a stickler for teaching and using great form because even here in New York, I always see far too many trainers who really don’t care about technique and to be honest, they make the industry just look really bad.

Craig: Yeah, you probably go and see the same sort of thing that I used to see back when I was a trainer in Toronto:     some of the highest priced trainers are not even paying attention to their clients. In Toronto, one of the highest priced trainers would fall asleep on his clients. He has three or four members of the wealthiest families in Toronto training under his eye, including literally the richest man in Canada trained under this guy’s watchful eye but he was sleeping while these people were training.

They were doing the worst exercises. They were standing on things and wobbling all over the place and trying to do rows. It was so bad it really, really, truly did give the industry a bad name.

I’m sick and tired of it and you’re sick and tired of it and I’m sure everybody on this phone call is sick and tired of the industry not being recognized as professional. That’s what we’re doing. We’re working to build it up and same with our friends like Alwyn Cosgrove. He has great speeches obviously and that’s why we’re having him back at the TT Summit next year. He speaks so much about how we’re not getting professional recognition for the certified personal trainer areas in the industry but that’s going to change with what we do. That’s why we’re such sticklers for form. That separates us from so many of the other certifications and methods of training out there. I really love it and I really love it enthusiasm.

And again, going back to how you were working, I think it was Dennis that you were training in the testing part, you were just fantastic. You were cueing people properly. That’s what we train people on because again, if you get people results, you’re going to get referrals. If you get people injuries, you’re going to lose clients, you’re never going to get referrals, and you’re going to get a bad name in your town. So you can’t do that. Results are the bottom line and then you build on that.

So great question and great comment about that, really about perfect form for perfect fat loss results. We care about that for our trainers and our clients as part of the Ten Million Turbulence Transformation. It really is all about the results and it starts with how we design and deliver our workout programs.

Kate: Yeah, I think it’s important just as well to note that, Craig, sometimes the results don’t have to be super, super fast because sometimes people can take a little bit longer to get results and it’s just about the trainer setting that timeframe and coaching their clients through the transformation process. Yes, you can get fast results but they’re not lightning bolt fast because that also will lead to injury.

Craig: Yeah, definitely.

Ok folks, we’ll have to end it for today. Join us in Part 3, where Kate and I talk about the New Turbulence Training 2.0, and why we moved away from traditional interval training.

Click here to listen to the call

Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer