Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Introducing the KISS Workout System

A while back, I posted the first phase of the Canadian Bear Program from Christian Thibaudeau, who writes over at T-Nation. I gave the program a try and after one week I knew I couldn't handle the volume and intensity (and I LIKE high volume and high intensity). Maybe it's my age, or maybe I'm not cut out to be a power lifter, but I could see it wasn't going to work for me. Too much lower back workout with the squats and deadlifts for me.

However, I like the basic premise: Focus on core lifts, 6 reps per set, as many sets as I can get in a specific time block. This is similar to Charles Staley's EDT Program, which I also quite like and use with my clients.

So I have been messing with the idea over the last two weeks and have come up with a program that is flexible, intense, and moderate volume (though some might think this is high volume, for me it's only a little more than normal).

I call it the KISS Workout System. As many of you no doubt know, KISS stands for "Keep It Simple Stupid." That's the beauty of this program, it's so simple a caveman could do it.

Basic Parameters:
6 reps per set
10-15 minutes per block
One exercise per block
Get as many sets of 6 as possible in the given time block
3-4 exercises per workout
3-4 workouts per week

Here are a couple of sample days from my workout log (ALWAYS keep a workout log).

Thrusters (115) 11 sets, 15 minutes
Weighted Chins (45) 11 sets, 15 minutes
Incline Chest Press (195) 10 sets, 15 minutes
DB Snatch, Split Stance (75) 5 sets (each side), 15 minutes

Stiff-leg Deadlift (315) 9 sets, 15 minutes
Smith Military Press (160) 10 sets, 15 minutes
Seated Cable Row (230) 10 sets, 15 minutes

Squat (315) 9 sets, 15 minutes
Bench Press (230) 10 sets, 15 minutes
Bent Row (275) 10 sets, 15 minutes
Hanging V-Ups (bw) 8 sets, 10 minutes

So the basic pattern is a leg exercise, a push, and a pull in each workout, plus abs (or arms if you so desire), or an occasional explosive lift (snatch variations or exercises like thrusters). If you are short on time, use ten minute blocks instead of 15 minutes. The only essential is that we do a lower body exercise, an upper body push, and an upper body pull in each workout.

Ideally, you'll do this 4 days a week if possible (otherwise 3 days), and never repeat the same exercise in the week.

There are many variations of squats and deadlifts, not to mention the leg press, hack squat, and other machines. Same with upper body pushes (bench, incline bench, dips, military press, db press, etc.) and pulls (bent row, seated row, chins, lat pull, cable rows, machine rows, etc).

If you want to work a lighter day into the progression, choose Olympic lifts that are more speed oriented than heavy, such as snatches, cleans, thrusters, and so on. You'll still build strength or burn calories, but the CNS stress won't be as great.

The cool thing about this workout is that it is adaptable to where you are now (use a 10 RM as your starting weight and adjust if needed), it burns as many calories as you are willing to get out of it, and it will make you stronger as you progress (especially if you are in a bulking cycle). So whether you are trying to lean out and build size, you can do it with this program.

I'm beginning a two month leaning out phase (pictures to come) and this will be the program I use, along with some HIIT cardio and sprint training on off days.


Eric Blue said...

Sounds like a pretty hardcore (and effective) workout! I may give this a shot sometime soon. Although, I'll have to adjust the weights. My max bench (1 rep) is what you're currently working with for 6 rep sets ;)

WH said...

Your comment reminds me of a couple of things I forgot to mention:

1) choose a weight you can do for 8-10 reps to start with
2) if you can average a set a minute, add weight
3) progression is the point, so keep trying to do more sets in the same time, or more weight

Have fun!

Damon said...


Great to hear what you are doing in your training and how you have adapted it. We are on a similar wave length at the moment given that I have used the same influence, adapted it - but using the same underlying principles of simplicity, timing and phasing.

Im finding the concept of basic movements, similar rep patterns, with the time in the background very supportive of my strength practice and giving me enough time to reflect without too much else going on in my conscious thought. Its the space between the intensity im enjoying the most of this sequence.

Be interested in knowing how you are going through this program and maybe we can keep in touch on this.