Renegade Workouts

ferruggiaTwo years ago this weekend I was in Chicago with Jay Ferruggia to go to Lollapalooza.

Jay is a hardcore music fan and is also, as you know, one of the most hardcore and respected trainers in America.

In fact, I’ve flown to NYC and Jersey several times just to train with Jay at his gym (plus we did a brutal workout in Chicago before the concert back in ’07).

And while we didn’t make it down to Lollapalooza this year, I did manage to get Jay to answer a few email questions about…

  • his own personal recent workouts
  • some new programs he’s created
  • interval training on the bike
  • and the best training schedule for folks in their 40’s.

CB: Jay, what kind of insane workout did you do yesterday? renegade

I ran a dozen forty yard sprints in the morning, about two hours after breakfast. That was, of course preceded by a pretty good warm up.

At night, six hours later, we did a heavy lower body workout.

Before squatting and deadlifting I like to foam roll for about ten minutes and then get in a pretty good dynamic warm up.

I like to be dripping with sweat and feeling very loose and “safe” before getting under a heavy load.

That’s not a problem at Renegade Gym as it usually gets up to ninety degrees during summer workouts and you’re sweating like Patrick Ewing in the fourth quarter after your first warm up set.

We started with five sets of hurdle jumps. After that we worked up to a five rep max on a box squat and then finished with a back off, death set of 20 reps.

Then moved on to some shrug pulls for sets of 8-10. Finished up with the neck harness and some sledgehammer work.

At the end of a squat or dead day I lay face down on the floor, resting on my elbows, with my spine in extension for about ten minutes.

The Russians believed that doing this helps realign your spine and set everything back in its proper place. I always feel better when I do it.

CB: Yeah, I started doing that after hearing about this from Pavel. Not 10 minutes though, maybe I’ll try longer…Alright, so back in May I trained at your Renegade Gym. Remember how that 40 year old guy schooled us in the sled row? Whatwas up with that? How do you train that guy?

That’s my buddy Mark Crook. He’s actually 46, which makes it even more impressive. renegade-gym

The thing about Mark is that he never even thinks about his age and would never consider using it as an excuse or a reason why he shouldn’t be in there outworking and out lifting kids twenty years younger than him.

And that is one of the reason he has had such great success in the gym.

While he doesn’t think about his age I do.

The reality is that his recovery ability isn’t going to be what it used to be. So I try to keep his volume relatively low and stay on him aboot not going to
failure and overtraining.

He lives to train as hard as humanly possible but I have always tried to instill in him that doing so isn’t always the smartest approach and won’t always yield the fastest results.

I have him do two upper body days and two lower body days and he trains three days per week, so his fourth day spills over to the following week.

This system allows for plenty of stimulation while providing an optimal amount of recovery time and you rarely feel beat up or experience any kind of joint stress.

He has a bad back from some old injuries so we only load his spine on one of the two lower body days. This gives him a full nine days between squat sessions which is usually enough.

Whatever we are doing, he hits it hard and gets done in 45 minutes.

CB: What is your new “Renegade cardio” program all aboot? You know how much I hate that word. Now why’d you have to go and do that?

I know, I know. I hate it as much as you.

The only reason I use that word in the title is because most people recognize it whereas they might not know what conditioning or energy systems training means.

But the fact of the matter is that Renegade Cardio is not cardio at all.

I am showing people what we do at Renegade Gym, where we have never had a treadmill, stationary bike or stairclimber, yet have always gotten people absolutely shredded time and time again. ropes

We prefer to use sleds, Prowlers, sledgehammers, sandbags, battling ropes, jump ropes and bodyweight circuits.

Now I know not everyone has access to those implements so I have given you plenty of other options to choose from as well.

Of course, my favorite way to get lean is sprinting which doesn’t require any equipment at all. In Renegade Cardio I cover my favorite sprint workouts and exactly how and when to do them.

jlgHaving said all that I realize that some people may still end up being relegated to a stationary bike for one reason or another.

So I’ve created some killer workouts with the stationary bike that will help you get ripped without sapping all your strength.

See, here’s something a lot of people don’t realize… The worst thing you can do for your fast twitch muscle fibers is drown them in a pool of lactic acid.

Let me explain… When you do intervals on a bike the way most people do and get that intense burning sensation in your legs, you are accumulating a large amount of lactic acid.

This is the worst thing you can do if you want to be fast and explosive. Lactic acid turns fast twitch fibers slow.

Since the majority of my clients have always been athletes and those that aren’t are usually weekend warriors, I need to avoid this at all costs.

So here is how you can do intervals on the bike without getting slower and decreasing your vertical jump and overall power…

  1. Get on the bike and warm up for a minute or so.
  2. Then sprint as hardas you can for ten seconds.
  3. After the sprint, drop the bike down tothe lowest level possible and cruise very slowly until you are up for your next interval.

One mistake people make is that they keep the intensity too high on the bike during their active rest interval.

This is fine, as are any other interval recommendations, if your main goal is simply to lose fat. But when you need to maintain power you need to keep the hard intervals short and the easy intervals veeeerrrrry easy.

Just high enough to keep your heart rate up above normal.

Over time if you want more variety you can work up to twenty second intervals but the second you start accumulating lactic acid you need to immediately hop off the bike and jump rope or do jumping jacks for a minute until you flush the lactic acid.

If the gym you are in allows it I prefer to sprint for ten seconds on the bike then jump rope for a minute and continue in this fashion for 15-20 minutes.

This is far more effective than typical steady state cardio and will not decrease your speed or jumping ability. lb2

CB: Nice. We are now friends again. Now what about your new “Advanced Muscle Building Program”? You should have called it Mandelbaum muscle building, like after the Mandelbaum family in Seinfeld. So what’s the deal here?

I was considering that. But that’s a little too hardcore even for me.

With the Advanced program I introduce some new concepts such as intensification and adapation phases, the supercompensation effect, controlled over training and the hyper growth phase.

You need to be ready for this stuff otherwise it could really mess you up.

That’s why I require everyone to complete the main program first so that they have a solid base of size and strength before taking it to the edge with the advanced programs.

After gaining 20 plus pounds on the main workout, the advanced system will keep you growing out of your skin for another few months.jay42

CB: Nice work, LaRue. Alright, so what’s tomorrow’s workout look like for you?

Military presses with the Swiss bar, parallel grip chin ups,  alligator pushups on the Power Wheel, face pulls, kettlebell curls, side neck raises and some Prowler pushing.

Dang, wish I could be there for that one. Good stuff Jay, and thanks for the killer tips and new workout ideas.

Of course, since we can’t train at Jay’s, the next best thing to do is get his new programs. And you can get them here:

Click here to get Jay’s new Renegade Cardio & Advanced Muscle Programs today!

  • As a long time follower of Jason and others with the same mentality in this field I just wanted to say thanks for this article. It is people like Jason who finally convinced me to open up my own facility so I can get people in shape and healthy how they should be without dealing with the crap at a local chain gym.

  • Thanks, David. I appreciate that and am glad I could serve as some sort of inspiration.

  • Great stuff Jason! I have been following your stuff for a while now and it’s always a great read. I find that the hardest habit to break in my new clients is their “steady state cardio.” They don’t realize that they are really getting nowhere in terms of fitness. It’s been tough ground to break with a few of them but they are coming along and realizing that if they want to get lean they need to work harder, faster, and shorter durations. Thanks again!

  • Lauren

    I have just started following Jason, Craig, and a few other of you amazing fitness “gurus”!

    Coming from a background of endurance running, I finally decided a few weeks ago that I hate having the figure of a matchstick woman and I actually hate doing 3 hours a day of cardio! So I’m hoping that by following some of your tips/programmes that I will be able to build a strong, sexy body! I only wish I lived in the US or Canada so I could come to train with you in person, but being a poor student in the UK 🙁 I have to rely on these posts that you do! So thanks sooo much!


    Dear Jason; is this a program that can benefit a older person 70 plus years of age. I need to put on some weight and get my back in better shape as I was in a car accident 10 years ago and have developed arthritis.What do you think. I await your reply. Thanks TRM. If you publish this question please leave off my name and initials. Thanks

  • Adam

    Great post Craig! Thanks for sharing!!

    What does it mean to have your spine in extension?? Im interested in using this technique after my squat and deadlift days

  • Matt Tucker

    What do you mean by this exactly?

    “When you do intervals on a bike the way most people do and get that intense burning sensation in your legs, you are accumulating a large amount of lactic acid.

    This is the worst thing you can do if you want to be fast and explosive. Lactic acid turns fast twitch fibers slow.”

    Are you just referring to a temporary loss of power you might experience because of the lactic acid building up really high? or is it something else? Of is the point to use the low intensity periods to clear out lactic acid and try and keep the performance for the training at as high of a level as possible?

    Just looking for a little clarification, as I thought to some extent you wanted to push into that lactic acid accumulation to help your body learn at how to become more efficient and better at clearing it out, which also helps with performance.

    Thanks in advance

  • Jay,

    nice post bro! i love your philosophy of training! I’m a certified underground strength coach through zach even-esh and I just wanted to say I love your stuff too!

    i apply alot of what you have to offer to my athletes and clients. We just got the keys to our gym and are opeing the doors in a few days!

    i’ll def be picking up your new program!

    craig, thanks for the killer interview!


  • Thanks Callie and Lauren. I appreciate the comments.

    TR, in all honesty if you came to train with me I would most likely write you something different than the Muscle Gaining Secrets program. Of course, it would be difficult and time consuming to detail the specifics here. If you are interested in applying for online coaching think we have a couple spots opening in September.

    Adam, just lay face down on the floor and read a book or magazine for ten minutes. You will naturally be in the correct position, resting on your forearms.

    Matt, lactic acid accumulation of any sort is not a good thing for most power athletes. Sprinters, high jumpers, football players and baseball players participate in sports where lactic acid tolerance is not a factor. Therefore they don’t need to train for it. If you are training a fighter that’s a different story. It really depends on what your goals are. A running back should do zero off season training that builds up any lactic acid at all. A mixed martial artist needs to deal with it. If you are just looking to get really, really strong I would also avoid it. If you just want to get ripped, don’t worry about it.

    Travis, good luck with your new place.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Good stuff Laroux! Thanks for stopping by to answer those questions.

  • missrobyn007

    Fantastic info. thanks Jay. Have been following you on Twitter and love your stuff. Towards the end of the last contest I was finding a progressive weakness in my legs,,, the above explains why. I have since tried using the jump rope in between as someone suggested in a post,,, it’s basically as you described and found it to be heaps more effective, although I was still probably doing the sprints on the bike for too long. Will shorten them now,,, your recommendation is most appreciated. Will be getting your program too. Friday just past I signed a contract for a house with the intent of making it a mini-retreat where people can take time-out to take care of themselves,,, spiritually, mentally, & physically. There’s room enough for mini-gym too as well as a salt-water pool 🙂 Will be thoroughly going through yours (and a few of your mates’) programs so that I can glean top-notch info. to help them the best I possibly can. Once again, thanks heaps… you’re a fantastic role-model, inspiration, and have a wealth of expert advice.

    Kindest Regards,

    Sparkie 🙂

  • “One mistake people make is that they keep the intensity too high on the bike during their active rest interval.

    This is fine, as are any other interval recommendations, if your main goal is simply to lose fat.”

    … if your main goal is to lose fat when doing intervals, it’s not necessary to drop the intensity down as low during the active rest phase?

  • Cool info! Lollapalooza – love it! I still remember seeing Ministry, Ice Cube, Soundgarden and many others at the second one in like 1992. Gotta love good music.

    Very interesting fact about lactic acid. Lactic acid is very misunderstood, so looks like we will add in yet another one to the pile. The SAID principle rules again!

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  • Mary

    This is great information. I used to bicycle outdoors a LOT and always wondered why my strength and speed were still limited.

  • Linda

    I got a question for you! Every time I do any intense training I get a painful headache which usually lasts through most of the workout! I can do full on cardio no problem and weight training that isnt too intense is ok too but as soon as the pressure comes on and I need to real exert my muscles on comes the headache! Got any ideas? I am breathing properly so its not that!

  • Martin Smith

    What do you reckon to Tabata training? That is 20sec at full pelt followed by 10sec rest repeated eight times. I’ve worked up to three sets of this with a different exercise each set with a 2min rest between sets. I aim to go to four sets next week: set 1, dumbbell clean and press; set 2, fixed bike; set 3, kettlebell swings; set 4 rower.

  • gamut

    46 isn’t that old. What’s with all the sensationalism? I know fellows (and women) older than that who put young fellows to shame regularly. Now if this guy was 66, or 76 we’re getting closer to something impressive. I hope that was a typographical mistake