Like most folks in the fitness industry, I played a lot of sports when I was younger. That led to weight training. From there, I realized I wanted to be a strength coach in professional sports. I went to school for Kinesiology, which then led to a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology.
Along the way, I studied what made a good NHL Strength Coach (they had Master’s Degrees and were Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists – CSCS). I also started training athletes, along with men and women for fat loss.
In 1998-99, I was a lowly grad student, studying the effects of androstenedione (the supplement taken by the mighty baseball player, Mark McGwire during his record-breaking home run quest in ’98). In my study (which was published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology for any science nerds like myself out there), we had guys use the supplement and go through a couple of weight training sessions.
By February of ’99 I was stuck in the lab, analyzing the blood samples using some fancy radio-active isotopes. And when I say stuck in the lab, I mean STUCK. I’d get there at 7am, and record my last data point at 11pm. Sixteen hours of mad science. And if I wasn’t there, I was downstairs in the medical library, studying papers on testosterone and training. Now coming from a very athletic background, this sedentary lifestyle didn’t sit well with me. But there I was, studying for a degree in Exercise Physiology and left me with not time for exercise. Or so I thought.
Fortunately, I had a 50 minute window once per day of “down-time” while the lab’s gamma-counter analyzed blood samples. That left me 50 minutes to get to the gym (5 minutes across campus) and get a workout in the remaining 40 or so minutes. I knew that if I applied my studies to the workout, I could get maximum results in minimum time. As a former athlete, I knew that I had to find a way to stay fit and to avoid the fat gain that comes with working long hours in a sedentary environment.
I also had to stay true to the high-school bodybuilder I once was, so there was no way I was willing to sacrifice my muscle to one of those long-cardio, low protein fat-loss plans that were popular at the time. Instead, I had to draw on my academic studies and my experiences working with athletes as the school’s Strength & Conditioning Coach.
I knew that sprint intervals were associated with more fat loss than slow cardio, and I knew that you could also increase aerobic fitness by doing sprints (but you can’t increase sprint performance by doing aerobic training). So clearly, intervals were (and ARE!) superior to long slow cardio. I had seen firsthand the incredible results of sprint intervals in the summer and fall, as the athletes made HUGE fitness improvements and shed winter fat in a short time using my interval programs. I knew that intervals had to be the next step in the evolution of cardio.
The biggest benefit of intervals? A lot of results in a short amount of time. I knew that I only had 40 minutes to train, and therefore, I could only spend 15-20 minutes doing intervals. Now onto the strength training portion of the workouts. I knew that a high- volume bodybuilding program wasn’t going to cut it – I just didn’t have time.
But in the past year I had read so many lifting studies, that I knew exactly what exercises I needed to do to maximize my lifting time in the gym. Those exercises were standing, multi-muscle, movements such as squats, presses, rows, and plenty of other standing single-leg exercises. I knew that those exercises would bring me far more results than those people sitting on machines would ever achieve.
And I also knew that I had to lift heavier than the average Joe or Jane Gym-goer lifts. I just knew that doing lighter weights and high-reps wasn’t going to cut it. And a research study from 2001 later showed that I was right – when women did 8 reps per set, they had a significantly greater increase in post- workout metabolism than if they did 15 reps per set.
So I had my plan. Bust my tail over to the gym, through the cold, dreary Canadian winter afternoon, and do a quick but thorough warmup (specific to my lifts – none of that 5 minutes on the treadmill waste of time). Once I got through the warm-up, I did as many sets as I could in the remainder of the 20 minutes for strength training.
At that point, I knew that supersets were the only way to go if I wanted to maximize the number of sets I could do…so the non-competing superset of Turbulence Training was put in place. By non-competing, I mean that the 2 exercises in the superset don’t interfere with one another. So you can use upper and lower body exercises together or pushing and pulling exercises.
Just be careful not to use two grip-intensive exercises together in a superset – otherwise, one exercise will suffer, if not both. And then I followed up the strength training with intervals, as I knew these had to follow the lifting, otherwise it would not be the correct exercise order. Remember, intervals first leads to premature fatigue. Lift first, cardio later. Forget that old wives tale about doing cardio first to burn more fat. That’s junk.
You know, I remember the exact day and exact workout that this all came together into the Turbulence Training program. It hit me as I was finishing my intervals. I knew I had found something that was like fat loss magic.Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to put it in a pill.
But I’ve been able to put it down on paper in the Turbulence Training program. And I look forward to helping you transform your body with TT.
To your success,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS