It happens that today is second Rough Strength birthday. So I decided to come up with something special and fundamental at the same time. I have written lots of articles on training and nutrition. But I never wrote a whole article on why I think Rough Strength method is superior than others at least for my goal as well as for any strength-related goal. I can speak about this whole day but I won't bore you to death with long intros and get straight to the point. But, firstly, what is Rough Strength?
What Is Rough Strength?
I want people to have clear understanding of what Rough Strength is. Word 'rough' is used here not only like hardcore but first and foremost meaning without any luxuries. It's something you can use at home with anything you have.
I don't want it to be confused with trendy street workout or crossfit, or gymnastics, or powerlifting etc. Firstly, Rough Strength is obviously not a sport. It can have some competitive edge but it's not the main point. Why? Because it has no rules except for training for strength and progressive resistance and minimal effective equipment. You can use any implement you have at hand. Do you have nothing? Well, then there are calisthenics and gymnastic skills that will build strength just with your bodyweight. Want to add difficulty and challenge? No big deal, get a pair of rings. Want some variety but don't want to spend money on equipment? Make a sandbag. I wrote a lot on why and how to implement it. Want some versatile interesting and fun strength training implement? Get a kettlebell. Or better pair of them. Do you have access to barbell, dumbbells, tire, sledgehammer, gripper etc? Awesome. Use them if you want. The rules are the same. But in the end you don't need any fancy equipment to get results. And aren't results all that matter? You can get superstrong with as little equipment as bodyweight and sandbag. So what's your excuse?
Rough Strength is more of a personal struggle to get stronger, leaner, better. It's about getting in tune with your own body. It cultivates right attitude and discipline. It makes you better human and person. It's all about self-development. You and only you are the main piece of puzzle, not some unimportant things.
I will use term Rough Strength method later in this article. While there are no hard boundaries on what equipment to use Rough Strength method here means using calisthenics, kettlebells and sandbags separately or together like complete strength training system. These are the tools I found the most versatile and inexpensive. Anybody can have a full home gym even with these 3 tools.
Rough Strength Mission
As you can see there are no set in stone rules in Rough Strength method. Then what's the mission of my blog? Simple. Take a look around. What do you see? You see people that are believing that they need to pay for gym memberships to get in shape. You see people that believe they need fancy equipment to get lean and/or muscular. You see people that concentrate too much on external aspects instead of internal. This is wrong. Rough Strength mission lies in educating people. We live in whole new age. It's the age of information. I want to show you that you don't need gym memberships anymore. All tools are almost free. The thing you need to concentrate on is education in physical training and nutrition and/or getting help from professional. That is what makes HUGE difference. Never stop educating yourself.
If you are interested, I have 3 fundamental rules:
- Never teach what you haven't done or have little expertise at.
- Practice what you preach.
- Share the knowledge.
So what you read on my blog is the result of following these rules. I'm not one of those "fitness gurus" that claim that they know everything (but in reality they just full of crap and know only how to make testosterone shots in their ass). I'm just an ordinary guy with average metabolism and genetics sharing his knowledge and experience with the world. I think, honesty is the thing that makes difference. That's who I am.
And HUGE thanks to all of you who shared my work, who subscribed to my newsletter, facebook page, twitter, RSS. You all are awesome. You all took part in spreading the knowledge and helping Rough Strength mission. We all are family.
And why the F do you need to use this RS method? I'll give you 10 reasons.
10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Rough Strength Method
- It's almost free. I train now only with rings and sandbag (I don't have kettlebells here in Kiev, and I occasionally touch barbell and dumbbells). Again all you need is education and coaching. I got my recent sandbag for under $5. If it's expensive for you then training is not your thing, go cry in pillow.
- It's sustainable. When you have education you can sustain your training (and nutrition) for a lifetime. Who cares whether it's crisis or all gyms are closed? Or you are at the uninhabited island? Whatever. Knowledge gives you freedom and sustainability. No matter what you will always find how to train and progress further in your quest for strength.
- It's based on facts and reasonable progressions. I really don't like when people make unsupported claims. All of the information I share was tested by me and my clients. I filter useless crap and put out only what works. Also I don't like just-do-it approach (used, for example, in street workout). If you do something you do it on purpose. Proper programming is one of the most underrated things by regular gym rats. That's why they are so weak and girly. And that's why we are strong. Besides, I like to improve my knowledge every day so Rough Strength method is never out-dated.
- It builds real-world strength. Machines and bosu ball won't give you these awesome results in strength that you can use anywhere: from helping your friend moving furniture to bar-fight toughness.
- It builds mental toughness. That's one of the most important aspects of strength training. And Rough Strength method take it to the whole new level. You'll find out that coping with stress will be much easier. Work, family etc. If I wasn't training I would have jumped off the cliff already (living here in Ukraine is pretty tough, you know; 95% of people can barely earn money for decent food and living).
- It teaches you how achieve "impossible" things. As well as any proper strength training method. Progressive resistance and practice are keys to achieving any goal or skill. Handstand, Planche, the One-Arm Chin-Up, Big Bench Press, Huge Squat, playing guitar, riding a bike, being a good manager etc. Make one step at a time and practice more.
- It will help you with aesthetic goals. Who said that only barbell and dumbbells are good for getting ripped and muscular? It's all possible to achieve with calisthenics, sandbags and kettlebells but it will take longer time. Who cares in the end?
- It can be used to supplement any sport-specific training. If you are participating in some sort of sport then you will definitely benefit from this method. Read the reasons above. You will be stronger, leaner, more muscular etc. Isn't sport about being all that and playing sport?
- It's simple. But not easy. You concentrate only on important things. That's how you will not waste your time on useless crap. Doing only important things is simple but never easy. Train, eat right, rest, repeat. How it can be more simple?
- It's just awesome. Nothing to explain.
How to Use Rough Strength Method?
Firstly, who is RS method for? It is for serious and dedicated trainees only. Regular estrogen men and gym chicks will probably find it too difficult and demanding. If you are one of them stop reading right now. You won't get all the sophistication of the method, anyway. For all the others (I mean, hardcore dudes and dudettes) - read on.
So how to use this method? Well, it all depends on your level of dedication to it. Basically, there are 3 ways:
- Incorporate exercises you like into your current routine;
- Incorporate unconventional (or home) training days;
- Use Rough Strength method solely.
There's no best way. It all depends on individual. Everybody will find different use for the method. There is one important principle you need to understand: any exercise you perform in commercial gym can be performed at home with bodyweight, sandbag or kettlebells. When you understand this principle you can find substitution for any exercise. This is how you achieve freedom from commercial equipment. This is how you use RS method. Bench Press can be replaced with Planche Push-Up or One-Arm Push-Up, Barbell Rows can be replaced with Front Lever Rows, Barbell Squats can be replaced with Pistols or Sandbag Squats etc. Of course, these exercises will feel different but who cares. Again, the only thing that matters is result.
To understand this more deeply let's breakdown an example. There are basically several movement patterns of your body. For example, Bench Press is Horizontal Push movement. Just imagine how your hands travel during the movement. Why "horizontal"? Because of the position of your body to the floor and gravity. It's horizontal to the ground. "Push" because you press weight away from the body. Now when you understand what type of movement Bench Press is you can find a substitute for it keeping in mind that it is horizontal push. It can be Planche Push-Up, One-Arm Push-Up, Weighted Push-Up, Kettlebell Floor Press, Sandbag Floor Press etc. Read this article for more.
Important VS Unimportant
Another skill you need to develop is separating important from unimportant. Not to bore you completely here are two random lists.
- Progressive resistance;
- Basic Exercises;
- Calories and Macros;
- Education etc.
- Programs of Champions;
- What exercises do I (or any other guy except you) use;
- Fancy gym clothes;
- Ab and biceps training etc.
That's it. Is my method the only right thing to do? No. If you are doing something and it works for you then do it by all means. But if what you are doing now doesn't work you can use Rough Strength for help. If you are open-minded and ready to challenge yourself with something new then you are welcome. Thanks for reading. Do me a HUGE favor by sharing this with as many friends as possible.
I'm always ready to help you.
P.S. What are your thoughts?
"The simpler - the better". It is one of my mottos. The simpler - the more chances that you won't screw up in something. This principle has never failed me in whatever area of life, and especially in training and nutrition. Many people have that OCD thing. They are too obsessed with perfect amount of training intensity, frequency and volume, perfect exercise selection, perfect amount of calories, perfect macronutrients, perfect amount of sleep (of course, in perfect sleep waves) etc. Funny thing that there are no things in life that are perfect. You can be very close to perfect but never perfect. And that's the beauty of life. You will always have room for improvement. No matter how strong you are you will always have things to do to become stronger. No matter how good your Handstand, for example, or Planche you will always find little adjustments to make them better. You got the idea. But what about simplicity?
What's the Power of Simplicity?
What was all that perfection talk about? It was about people and their inability to see what matters and what not. I don't mean to shatter your tiny reality but on beginner and intermediate stages (where most of you are) you will gain strength even with not perfect program. You will build muscle even with not perfect exercise selection. You will lose fat even with not perfect diet. Be simpler. Concentrate on basics. What do you think will be more effective: if you get stronger just in Planche Push-Ups or if you will attempt to get stronger in Planche Push-Ups along with Bench Press, Weighted Dips, Regular Push-Ups, Dumbbell Flies and Incline Bench Press all at once to "hit your pecs from every angle"? Obviously, you'll have more chances for success if you concentrate on couple of things and get really good at them than if you pick a lot of things and be another mediocrity. People always ask me questions they really shouldn't be asking at their level. What is better squats or deadlifts? Can I gain muscle with calisthenics? What is better: 3 sets of 6 or 4 sets of 6? Will close-grip bench press build middle chest? Should I concentrate on my lower chest more? What is the best exercise for rear delts? I can go on and on. These are wrong questions. Concentrate on basics, get stronger and keep it simple. That's how you'll see results.
The same goes for diet. You can wake up at night to get your protein shake and don't skip any bird meal every 2-3 hours while keeping the most precise macronutrient ratio in the world. Or you can fuck that and use intermittent fasting, eat like a king couple of times per day, follow calories and macros roughly, get lean, be awesome and enjoy your life. And even with such simple diet approach like intermittent fasting people get too obsessed. When to do eating window? Should I do 4- or 8-hour eating window? Should I do complete fasting or I can eat in very small amounts? I can easily give 10 more stupid questions about intermittent fasting but I won't. Keep it simple. It was meant to make your diet easier not harder.
My point is that you don't need overly sophisticated training and diet plan to get results. You need just rough reasonable plan and burning desire to succeed. Of course, when you get to advanced levels you'll need complexity. But by that time you should already know what works for you and keep on doing it. And a special note on bodyweight exercise: don't confuse simplicity of program and ease of exercise. In calisthenics to get stronger you will need to progress to more complex exercises. For example, when you are able to perform free-standing handstand push-ups you can (and should) progress to 90 degree handstand push-ups. You got the idea. That is it. Thanks for reading and share with your brothers and sisters in strength. Feel free to comment and contact me if you need help.
...So I was sitting and thinking: "Why sandbag strength training isn't really popular nowadays?" Actually two answers came up to my mind. Firstly, sandbag training is really tough. It's not for all those boys and girls that attend fitness clubs to get social. It's not for all those fat rich people that are so got used to luxury and comfort that they drive to fitness club to walk on treadmill. And, of course, it's not for all those close-minded pseudo-bodybuilders that think that nothing works if it's not a barbell, dumbbells or machines. Secondly, with sandbag training there's nothing to sell. Well, almost. You need just a bag and sand. Here's my tutorial on how to make a sandbag. Sandbag training is not as popular nowadays as it should be. It gives you rough reality check. It shows you how really weak you are. That's why you need to implement it and get stronger in it. Here's five reasons you need to do so.
1. Sandbag training is cheap.
I prefer to say that sandbag training is ridiculously cheap. Again you'll need a bag, some sand and some time to put it all together. Almost no thinking involved. My recent sandbag cost me under $5. And all I payed for was a bag. As for the sand I made some "research" on how to get it free and decided that the most cost effective solution was to stole it from construction site near home at night (: That's how we do it in Ukraine. Rough Strength style. But I digress. Just count. No gym memberships (why home gym?), no bars, no plates, no dumbbells, nothing. Fully equipped home gym in under $5. I think I made my point.
2. Sandbag training develops real life strength.
When I heard term "functional training" the first time I thought: "Wow! Really cool term for strength training". Later when it became popular fitness clubs started label everything as functional. Well, I don't want to be rude but how the fuck bosu-ball is functional? What real life function of the body does it train? Or how 1 kg dumbbells are functional? Smart people just selling useless crap to dumb people. That's functional. That's why I prefer to use term real life strength. Anyway, sandbag develops this kind of strength. Of course, I'm not talking here about light weight sandbags. You'll feel this benefit when you will work up in basic exercises to at least a sandbag that is equal to your own bodyweight. I use 80 kg sandbag now. Here's video of me push pressing 75 kg sandbag for 4 reps:
Just look at my face at the end of the set and you'll understand everything (: You'll be amazed of the potential of this tool for building strength.
3. Sandbag training develops muscles that you weren't aware of.
That's true. Just try it. You'll feel soreness in muscles you thought didn't exist. Training with sandbag forces your body to use its stabilizers MUCH more. Why? Because it's always uncomfortable, unstable, it's always changing its form and always trying to escape your hands. It reminds me wrestling a human. Well, at least dead human. Is sandbag training optimal for building muscles (again "optimal", noticed?)? Well, it's hard to say. More yes than no. Lift damn sandbag, remember progressive resistance, get right diet with slight calorie surplus, sleep and grow. It's just that. You'll build some decent muscular body and strength to match.
4. Sandbag training develops bone-crushing grip.
Have you ever tried to pick up a heavy sandbag? Have you been able to crush it? The answer is probably 'no'. Because it's almost impossible to get a good grip on sandbag. It's hard and it's uncomfortable. Your fingers will get a workout-in-workout. Prepare for some hard work. You'll be able to lift less weight than with a barbell because of this factor. But your muscles will actually work more. Resistance is resistance. And prepare to obtain a pair of vise-grip hands.
5. You always need to lift sandbag off the floor.
That's big factor. People nowadays seem to oversimplify their training. Treadmill over outdoor running, bench press over military press, leg press over squats and deadlifts. I can go on and on. And then they wonder why they are so fat. That's why. Do some more work. Such oversimplification won't work with sandbag strength training. You always need to lift sandbag off the floor. This means more work and more fat loss. Just try it.
I hope I gave you some reasons to at least give sandbag strength training a shot. It's definitely not for everybody. Just for the toughest of us (: As always thanks for reading. Don't be afraid to comment and share.
P.S. For those of you, my friends, who for some reason missed my last video here it is. Enjoy.
If you're hard training athlete or just an ordinary fitness enthusiast that is trying to gain strength, build muscle and lose fat high-protein diet would probably be the best option for you (of course if you have no kidney diseases). But have you ever wondered how the hell you are supposed to follow high-protein diet and don't spend all your income on it? How to make it happen? I'll try to answer these questions in the post and show you on my own example how I made high-protein diet more affordable for me here in Ukraine.
What Is High-Protein Diet?
I don't use macro-nutrient ratios in my diet (I mean accurate percentages). Dieting is no fun (well, at least for me (maybe just a little)) and percentages make it even less fun. So I'm using bodyweight ratios. I count only calories and protein. Calories were determined in experimental way. As for protein, any diet that consist at least 1 g of it per 1 lb of bodyweight (of course, if you're not obese) is considered by me as high in protein.
Ok, here's my numbers for those who is interested:
Height: 180 cm (5'11'')
Weight: 82.5 kg (181.5 lbs)
Maintenance: ~2500 kcal per day
How to Create Your Own High-Protein Diet?
As you can see my bare minimum of protein per day is approximately 180 grams. If I want to gain muscle I'll need to increase it to approximately 270 grams (maybe even more). Why so much protein? You can read here. Well, you may need less in several occasions. But I'll discuss this later. Remember, all this is just an advice. If I want to lose some fat I'll be ok with 180 grams.
So the next step would be to create a menu that will satisfy our protein requirements. You can pick from several protein sources. They could be animal or plant. In my experience animal protein products ar far superior to plants. I don't know whether it's because of incompleteness of plant protein sources or any other reason but I see less results in muscle building and fat burning when eating plants compared to tasty dead animals and their products. Of course, vegetarian and vegan diets would be cheaper here in Ukraine but, man, I hate those beans and lentils. I gave them a try. I wasted my time.
So I pick from animal protein sources. My top picks would be:
- Cottage cheese
I like to keep it simple and don't add any fancy stuff. If you have an OCD you can go ahead and calculate the price of 1 g of protein in each of these sources. But this isn't needed. Just compare prices and concentrations of protein in all these sources.
My top picks again would be: chicken breast, 0% cottage cheese (it tastes like shit (I'm not saying that I've tasted shit but I guess that it may taste even better than this devil's trick)), 9.5% cottage cheese, 17% cottage cheese (it tastes awesome) and eggs. Also I can eat occasional lean beef, lean pork or fish.
These are the cheapest high-protein sources available here in Ukraine. I wouldn't eat canned food. And we don't have organic craze here. So I don't really know whether my food organic or not. As the proverb says: "The less you know - the better you sleep".
Then create menus for your workout and non-workout days according to your calories and protein needs. I like to add some carbs on workout days and to go low-carb on non-workout days. And workout days should have generally more calories and non-workout - less.
For example, here's two menus for fat loss for me or someone with my stats:
1) WO Day
250 g fried chicken breast
230 g 9.5% cottage cheese
6 fried eggs
250 g 17% cottage cheese with dry fruits
130 g rice (I measure it dry before boiling; it's half a cup)
+ any amount of veggies
Total: 2549 kcal
Protein: 187 g
Cost: 40 UAH ($5) per day
2) Non-WO Day
10 hard-boiled eggs (you may think "holy shit!" but I just love eggs and their price)
460 g 0% cottage cheese
250 g 17% cottage cheese with dry fruits
+ any amount of veggies
Total: 2013 kcal
Protein: 186 g
Cost: 40 UAH ($5) per day
As you can see such diet will cost me $150 per month. And there's no supplements included (when we're talking about diet on a budget food should be your number one priority). Of course, you should remember about variety and once you hit plateau you'll need to create new menus.
Intermittent Fasting And High-Protein Diet
As you could already notice I'm a big proponent of intermittent fasting. It keeps you energized, it promotes fat loss, it trains your mind and your body, it gives you freedom, it keeps you full and satisfied and it regulates your hormones to name few advantages. Another great thing about it that while you're fasting and not eating protein your sensitivity to it increases. According to Ori Hofmekler, author of the Warrior Diet, protein absorption during periods of overfeeding preceeded by underfeeding periods increases up to 160%. That's quite big advantage for me. But as everything in life intermittent fasting is not for everyone.
So now you have all the keys to create your own high-protein diet and have no excuses to fail. High-protein diet shouldn't be expensive as many may think. Make smart food choices and spend all the rest money on strippers and booze (: As always, thanks for reading. Comment, ask, like, share.
Remember Arnold? I consider that he built one of the best (if not the best) bodies of all time. When I learned that he was training twice a day I thought like: "Holy shit! How was he able to progress?" Well, dude obviously knew what he was doing. Then I learned about Bulgarian weightlifting training methods where athletes were training for a max for that day EVERY day and even SEVERAL TIMES PER DAY. I thought this was something unreal until I read articles of Chad Waterbury and Charles Poliquin on theme. It turned out that twice a day training was in reach of natural strength trainee. The tricky point is to set everything up properly. High-frequency training is something that always worked well for me so I tried this approach approximately a year ago. What can I say? It worked awesome. I was able to progress every workout. The downside was that I didn't count calories and protein at that time and I definitely was undereating.
I can't actually recall why I stopped training this way (probably lack of time) but recently when I hit plateau in my training I decided to give it another shot. And results so far are great. The thing is I concentrated on really low reps (1-3) and high intensity for too long. Then I wanted to add a bit lighter exercises for higher reps (I don't like high rep training at all but I guess I still can benefit from it) and added them after low rep strength work. It worked but not perfectly because after low reps most of the time I was too exhausted to show results in high reps. Solution came rapidly. I decided to split my workouts and train twice a day. Well, it was right decision. Now I'm able to progress in both rep ranges. So basic scheme of my current routine looks like:
A1) Extended HSPU (between chairs, shoulders touching palms in the bottom)
A2) One-Arm Chin-Up Work
A2) Ring Pull-Ups
1) Barbell Squats
A1) Planche Push-Ups (harder version)
A2) Front Lever Pulls
A1) Planche Push-Ups (lighter version)
A2) Front Lever Pull-Ups
A1) Ring Muscle-Up (strict, no swing)
A2) One-Arm Push-Up (strict, feet together, as little twist as possible, shoulders parallel to the ground)
A1) Ring Dips
A2) Ring One-Arm Horizontal Rows (as close to the ground as possible)
That's a basic scheme. I can adjust everything as I want for that particular day. Of course I add grip and flexibility work. AM workouts generally with low reps and high sets, PM workouts are high reps, low sets. This is just a template that works for me. It's not intended to work for everyone.
So what if you want to try twice a day training and don't know how? Well, I'll try to guide you.
If you're working out with weights that would be ideal. Keep your reps in 15-25 rep range. AM workouts - more sets, less reps. PM workouts - more reps, less sets. If you can do more than 25 total reps add weight. I recommend to train every other day or 3 days a week with full-body workouts. If it's too much than you can use some sort of split routine. Keep at least 6-8 hours of rest between AM and PM training sessions.
A1) Barbell Squats 8 x 3
A2) Weighted Dips 8 x 3
A3) Weighted Pull-Ups 8 x 3
1) Dumbbell Lunges 2 x 12 (each leg)
2) Dumbbell Bench Press 2 x 12
3) Double Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 2 x 12
Day 2 - off
A1) Barbell Split Squats with rear foot elevated 6 x 4 (each leg)
A2) Barbell Military Press 6 x 4
A3) Barbell Bent-Over Row 6 x 4
1) Barbell Zercher Squats 3 x 8
2) Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 3 x 8
3) One-Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Row 3 x 8
Day 4 - off
A1) Barbell Deadlift 4 x 6
A2) Barbell Bench Press 4 x 6
1) Leg Press 2 x 12
2) Dumbbell Push Press 2 x 12
3) Suitcase Deadlift 2 x 12 (each side)
Day 6 & 7 - off
Try it and adjust from there. With calisthenics you'll have to think more to find a right balance of intensity/volume but the rules are the same so don't overthink. If you don't screw up then you should expect at least twice more gains in strength and muscle in the same period of time. Some people will be able to lose substantial amounts of bodyfat along the way.
Twice a day training is an advanced technique. If you don't have some serious training under your belt don't even think to try it. I would say you should be training consistently and getting results at least couple of years before trying this technique. It's a very powerful tool but it has its own requirements: time, dedication and lots of rest.
I'm quite amazed that people don't understand and don't use such powerful tool as sleep in their lives. Are you looking for the best pre-workout supplement? Try to sleep at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day and I guess you'll find what you're looking for. Are you looking for the best fat-burner? Try to sleep at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day and I guess you'll find what you're looking for. Don't happy with body composition and strength/muscle gains? How about sleeping at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day? Too much stress in life? Have you tried to sleep at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day? Getting old too fast? Better start sleeping at least 8 hours at night and take a nap during the day as soon as possible. Are you always angry without a reason? Sleep. Fuck, it's really that simple.
The only legitimate reason to skip sleep
I wasn't getting this until recently. I always try to get at least 8 hours a night. Most of the time I get them. I thought I felt awesome until I began to take a nap (20-150 minutes in duration) every afternoon. Holy shit, I've never felt so awesome before. My strength and body composition improved right away. It's definitely worth every minute. We get the most powerful growth hormone surge when we sleeping. And growth hormone in its turn is one of the most powerful fat-burners, anabolic and anti-aging agents. It's built-in. It's free, you don't have to pay for it. How stupid you are if you're not using this advantage?
Some people may say: "But I don't want to waste my life on sleep!" Well, then continue to feel like shit every day and forget about strength and best body composition possible. Maybe you will have a bit less parties but you will feel and look WAY younger than your reckless contemporaries.
Again, you'll not build any substantial strength and muscle if you don't sleep. You won't get ripped if you don't sleep. You'll die faster if you don't sleep. Sleep at least 8 hours per night and take a decent nap during the day. You will definitely be amazed with results.
Try training twice a day and sleep a lot. I almost guarantee that your gains will skyrocket. Thanks for reading. Feel free to share, comment and subscribe.