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Climbing The Ladder To Fitness

Originally posted in The Haven

The biggest excuse I constantly hear, and am guilty of as well, is that there is never enough time in the day to train. In between work, school, a social life, and relaxation time, working out often gets abruptly pushed to the wayside. We're all intimately familiar with the all-consuming affliction of fathomless exhaustion. Like a tractor beam, it diverts all of your focus from productivity and your tireless ambitions to the languishing, but oh so fucking satisfying catatonia of sleep. Sure, you could hype yourself up on addictive, damaging stimulants, heavily drenched with generous amounts of disruptive caffiene, but that's unhealthy, and not what we do in The Haven. With the method Im about to explain in fortuitous detail, you will be able to squeeze an hours worth of fitness into 15-20 minutes. Efficient, simple and effective.

At sea, forced to make due in crowded gyms bursting with sweaty, aggressive Neanderthals, a society of which I am an enthusiastic, card carrying member, I quickly learned that the traditional 3X10, 45 minute workout was infeasible. So too, was the classic bodypart split common to the plans of men around the world, though luckily I never trained like that in the first place. In The Haven, we dont fritter about pathetically, bemoaning our momentarily pitiful luck. Instead, we adapt, observing our surroundings and developing a tactical, precociously designed plan engineered to allow us to exceed the shortcomings and restrictions of our environment, ultimately thriving under such suffocating conditions

. After some experiementation, I developed a routine based around Deadlifts and, of course, my beloved Handstand Pushups. Influenced by the work of Pavel Tsatsouline, Dan John, Chad Waterbury and Jamie Lewis, it was expeditious and uncomplicated, though by no means facile. The result? Given the garbage I was forced to subsist on, I lost weight, yet, paradoxically, gained size and definition. Lean and trim like a fighter, at my peak onboard I was 163. Smaller than I wanted, but the strongest Id ever been up to that point in my life.

I can hardly claim to have invented this style of training, and it has indeed existed since the days of yore at the iconic mecca of bodybuilders, the mystifying Muscle Beach. Arnold Schwarzenegger called it the "I go, you go" method, while Dave Draper, the California Golden Boy from Secaucus, New Jersey, deemed it "Running The Rack". Both were different in technique but all together fraternal in execution.

 Say you have a weight, 135 pounds, that you can bench 5 times. You would then rest the requisite 3-5 minutes and complete another set of 5 reps. Not so with Ladders. Load your weights. Steal your Mom's kitchen timer, or just use the stopwatch on your phone. Start the timer, and do a rep. Just one. Wait until 1 minute has elapsed from the moment you rack the weight. So, if you completed the rep at 7 seconds, you would exert yourself again at the 1:07 mark. When said mark arrives, unrack your barbell and do 2 reps this time, then return it to its proper resting place. Repeat until 5 reps are done. It should take a little over 5 minutes. You may notice youre slightly burned, but nothing too severe. You may even feel like you've cheated yourself for not working your beleagured muscles into the ground. This is where the magic of irony abounds. Normally you wouldve done a set, rested for 3-5 minutes, and done another one after, for a total of 10 reps. This time, however, youve done 50% more repititions, a total of 15, increased your work capacity, and added an aerobic element to your strength training. To me, thats the biggest blessing of this style of training. Done correctly and consistently, the need for droning, torturous cardio is mitigated to practically nothing.

Stripped to its bare constituents, the workout appears like this.

1 rep
Rest 1 minute
2 reps
Rest 1 minute
3 reps
Rest 1 minute
4 reps
Rest 1 minute
5 reps
Rest 1 minute

Rest 5 minutes

1 rep
Rest 1 minute

Repeat ad nauseum, pausing only to drink to take a swig of water while admiring the efforts of the girl clad in lycra, laboring away in the rack and squatting your max for reps.

Obviously, this approach isnt limited solely to compound barbell movements. Ive seen it used for single joint pumping movements, such as the stalwarts of arm day, bicep curls and tricep kickbacks, bodyweight techniques that demand high tension and synergistic muscle cooperation, namely levers, handstands, planches and flags, and metabolic conditioning complexes, like medicine ball throwing, tire flipping and savagely beating the shit out of a punching bag with a sledgehammer like it owes you money. Tailor it to suit your personal goals, desires and needs. It can even be combined with supersets, allowing you to work opposing muscle groups faster and more intensely.

My deployment workout was as follows.

Bar set to 315.

2 HSPU's
Rest 1 minute
1 rep of DL's
Rest 1 minute
4 HSPU's
Rest 1 minute
2 reps of DL's
Rest 1 minute
6 HSPU's
Rest 1 minute
3 reps of DL's
Rest 1 minute
8 HSPU's
Rest 1 minute
4 reps of DL's
Rest 1 minute
10 HSPU's
Rest 1 minute
5 reps of DL's

Rest 5 minutes

Repeat 3 times

Obviously this took awhile to work up to, and was slightly more time consuming in the sense that it took me twice as long to achieve the same number of target reps in each movement as it would if I had just been training one at a time. Conversely, I burned fat at a higher rate, engaged more of my musculature, and my training density was higher for the session. Worked for me, and it'll do wonders for you.

The training advice widely disseminated today is dastardly askew. The average gym goer looks like hammered dogshit, and blindly follows routines fashioned and tailored solely for mass consumption in apathetic muscle rags, like pigs consuming slop at a communal, disgustingly filthy trough. Theyre good enough for the average person, but no one in our Haven is average, mediocre or that most dreaded of terms, normal.

The two eternally touted training methodologies of the last 30 years are HIT, High Intensity Training, and pumping, toning workouts that rely on frequency. The former leaves you incapacitated for days after your workout with DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which has become a perverse badge of honor in todays fitness culture, while the latter renders you a virtual recluse, spending up to 3 hours dwelling in the gym, sometimes twice a day, according to some absurd guidelines. While I personally prefer the company of hand balancing and weights to the companionship of the majority of the population 99% of the time, I have a life to live as well. This is why the Ladder method is so perfect. A maximum amount of benefits with a relative minimum of time invested. I call that a magnificent ROI, regardless of the medium.

Anyone wanting to delve deeper into the jungles this introductory essay preached about will want to research the names I mentioned earlier, as well as the term Neurosynaptic Facilitation. The human body is a beautiful, engaging thing, capable of unbelievable, seemingly supernatural feats of athletic accomplishment.

Respect its potential, and revere it as such. We were fashioned and crafted lovingly by God in His image. Dont squander His gift.

Best regards Haven.


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