“Everlasting Challenge” Training Routine

Everlasting Challenge Training RoutineLately I have been really puzzled with coming up with a new theme for an article. After shuffling all the possible ideas, nothing still seemed to resonate with me. The solution came rapidly as always. Some time ago an interesting idea regarding structuring a training routine popped up in my mind. The only reason I didn’t want to share it yet was the fact that I was still testing it. “But why not?” – I thought.

Therefore, enter the “Everlasting Challenge” Training Routine.

The Approach

If you are impatient, here is the actual approach without unnecessary long intros:

1. Define 3-7 exercises you want to improve strength in. Of course, these exercises should cover different movement patterns. For example, Military Presses, Weighted Chin-Ups, Squats, Handstands, and Double Kettlebell Swings.

2. Program these exercises so that they don’t hinder each other’s progress. Use low reps and low-medium amount of sets. For example:

Day 1

A1) Military Press – 3 sets of 5

A2) Weighted Chin-Up – 3 sets of 5

Day 2

Off

Day 3

A) Squats – 3 sets of 5

Day 4

Off

Day 5

A) Handstand Strength Work – 5 sets

B) Double Kettlebell Swings – 3 sets of 5

Day 6

Off

Day 7

Off

3. Treat this routine as an ordinary strength training program. Progress in given boundaries. Change nothing if you can lift more weight/move to harder exercises on a weekly basis.

4. Here is a fun part. At the end of each training session, add a challenge. Not to interfere with a main program, I would come up with a challenge that uses the same muscle groups. For example:

Day 1

A1) Military Press – 3 sets of 5

A2) Weighted Chin-Up – 3 sets of 5

“Upper Body” Challenge:

B1) Kettlebell One-Arm Clean and Press – 40 reps total each arm (Use FSRS anywhere you see “reps total”. Check this article if you are not familiar with this concept)

B2) Kettlebell One-Arm Bent-Over Row – 40 reps total each arm

You should finish all the reps in as little time as possible.

Day 2

Off

Day 3

A) Squats – 3 sets of 5

“Legs” Challenge:

B) Explosive Lunges – 3-4 sets of 10

Day 4

Off

Day 5

A) Handstand Strength Work – 5 sets

B) Double Kettlebell Swings – 3 sets of 5

“Arms” Challenge:

A1) Towel Curls – 50 total reps each arm

A2) Diamond Push-Ups – 50 total reps

Day 6

Off

Day 7

Off

5. Here is another fun part. You will come up with a completely different challenge each training session. Use any training variables you want: time under tension, sets, reps, rest periods, exercises, order, speed, anything else you can come up with. Just make sure that this challenge is somewhat realistic (not 1000 reps in 5 minutes), and, importantly, don’t use too heavy weights. Something along the lines of 8-15RM should be just right, although you can freely use something a tad easier (for example, Regular Push-Ups). The easier the exercise, the more training volume you will need. This concept is explained here.

6. Prepare for indefinite soreness and, hopefully, some serious gains in strength, muscle and fat loss.

7. Finally, if you chose a move/position that is highly dependent on a skill (Handstands in the above example), then you should practice it on your off days. However, do not be a fool. Skill practice is nothing close to failure. I would suggest to be at 50% of your maximum.

The Approach Explained

How did I come up with it? Well, I watched a video with Arnold here. I don’t agree with everything, and I know that it was The Golden Era of steroids, but anyway, the guy definitely knows what he is talking about. The one particular thing that grabbed my attention was the concept that Arnold called “shocking the muscle”. Interestingly, I remember that the best muscle growth I experienced from switching from an old routine to a fresh one, which proves the big guy’s words.

So I thought: “What If I can use this principle in my training without compromising the strength work? How can I “shock the muscle” and introduce variety and still get stronger?” That is how the “Everlasting Challenge” approach was born in my head.

My idea is that if you use proper programming for strength work and blast your muscles with different challenges throughout the week with no interference, you can have the best of both worlds. How can you achieve no interference? Experiment. The best thing I came up with so far is to leave the strength work as is and use a structure of a classic bodybuilding split for the challenges (you’ll see it below).

“Why can’t I just switch programs every week?” Because you won’t build any strength. You need a consistent training routine for strength development. Jumping from one program to another is a sure way to lack of results.

“This approach is nothing new”, you can say. Well, yes and no. There are two systems that are really close: a so-called “powerbuilding” or “powerbodybuilding”, and CrossFit.

The first one is great. It uses the same principle of developing strength first and foremost, and adding assistance work for muscle-building. The problem is actually with this assistance work. It is usually programmed in the same manner as a strength part. This way you try to progress in both sections simultaneously and get frustrated when it doesn’t work. Assistance work should “assist”, not interfere. Challenge system is much more suitable here because you don’t know what to expect.

CrossFit is a very tricky topic to speak about. I won’t get deep in what I think about it. I would just say that this approach is good at challenges, but lacks classic strength work in my opinion (besides everything else).

This is how the “Everlasting Challenge” routine is unique as far as I’m concerned.

Finally, this program is not for beginners. It is for intermediate/advanced trainees who have already trained consistently for several years using the principle of progressive resistance. If you are a beginner, check this article out.

My Approach

Here is the actual routine I’m testing at the moment of writing this article:

Day 1

A) Pulley-Assisted One-Arm Chin-Up – 3-5 sets

B) 3-finger Assisted One-Arm Handstand Push-Up – 3-5 sets

“Back” Challenge:

C) 50 total Chin-Ups as fast as possible

Day 2

Generally off, but there is Handstand skill practice GTG style.

Day 3

A) Free-Standing Handstand Push-Ups – 5-7 sets

“Press” Challenge:

B) Ladders in Double Kettlebell Clean and Press to a maximum total

Day 4

Generally off, but there is Handstand skill practice GTG style.

Day 5

A) Planche Strength Work – 3-7 sets

B) Double Kettlebell Snatch – 3-4 sets

“Arms” Challenge:

C1) One-Arm Kettlebell Snatch – 25 reps total

C2) Bodyweight Triceps Extensions – 25 reps total

[Exercises are performed back to back and with as little rest as possible]

Day 6

Generally off, but there is Handstand skill practice GTG style.

Day 7

A) Handstand Strength Work – 5-7 sets

B) Weighted Pistol – 3-4 sets

“Legs” Challenge:

C) Walking Lunges – 3 sets of as long as possible

Day 8

Generally off, but there is Handstand skill practice GTG style.

Day 9 – Start over.

Notes:

  • I train strength in 7 exercises here. I recommend you to pick less. Why? I know what I’m doing and how my body works, and that’s why I can get away with this amount of strength work. Choosing less exercises often will mean more progress for you.
  • I use 8-day cycle, but you don’t have to use it.
  • This routine is shown here only for example purposes. I have no idea what will be if you use it.
  • I have more than one skill-dependent exercise, thus I can practice other exercises on my off days too, not just the Handstand. I don’t get carried away though. Recovery is limited.
  • Of course, the challenges are different each time.

The Equipment

Interestingly, you can use pretty much any equipment with this routine. In fact, the less adjustable the training implement, the better and more exotic challenge you can create. Kettlebells are my favorite tools for this. You can’t really adjust them (well, you can but anyway), and that’s why I see them as a true test of strength and endurance. 32 kg are 32 kg anywhere anytime. You can’t drop 2.5 kg. The same is true for calisthenics, but kettlebells are more visual for me.

In case you don’t know how to substitute exercises, here is an article.

The Nutrition

The demand of this program is higher than the regular strength training routine, thus you will need a bit more calories to sustain this regimen. I would suggest to add 200-300 calories in the post-workout period of the training day and leave the off day without any changes. This is a good starting point. If you see that your muscles are disappearing, then add 100-200 calories more on workout days. If you are getting fatter and fatter, then subtract 100-200 calories on workout days.

Additionally, I assume that you already know about calorie cycling and are eating a bit less calories on your off days.

The Rest

This is important as always. Sleep enough. 8-9 hours are the best for me. Do not overdo the skill practice. “Off” means off. “Easy” means easy. Believe in success and succeed.

The Feedback

As I am just testing this routine, I encourage you to take part. Use the principles I described here, post your routines at the comments section, leave feedback. Let’s fine-tune it together!

Closing Thoughts

This is everything you need to know about the “Everlasting Challenge” training routine. Why “everlasting”? Due to spontaneous nature of the approach, you should not need variety, thus you should be able to sustain it as long as you want. Of course, the strength work will change in future, but the challenge section is limitless.

“Can I repeat the challenge?” Yes, you can and you should do this, but not in the consecutive session.

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

Play rough!

Alex Zinchenko

Every time you don’t like and share this article, you upset a kitten somewhere.

Do you have any thoughts? Let’s chat in comments.

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2 thoughts on ““Everlasting Challenge” Training Routine

  1. Kenneth

    I practice something similar method for nail bending or card tearing after my grip work. Seems to work well :)

    It also reminds me of strongman training where the workout would be fairly simple and easy to complete, then after some rest train an event or two.

    Reply

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