Getting The Most By: Tank
Editor’s Note: This article is penned with passion by an old friend and one of my favorite humans in the world. Training together at many gritty gyms in the greater NJ and PA area growing up, we fell in love with this sport and subculture and lifestyle together. It is safe to say that the GCode brand would not exist in its present incarnation were it not for the influences and experiences shared with the author in our formative years. What follows is his current training strategy—one built with balls and determination, plus pragmatism, knowledge and ingenuity. Utilize his spirit and well-articulated ideas to remove the excuses from your life.
First, I want to extend a huge thank you to GCode Nutrition for giving this opportunity to allow me to share some of my knowledge and dare I say, wisdom. I hope that this can help at least 1 person, not just in the gym, but in life. But before we get to the main set, let me do a warm-up. I have known the owner of this company for over 30 years. Words like loyalty, tenacity, relentlessness, and heart come to mind, when I think of this man. In addition to those things, believe me when I say that GCode does not have 1 product that would not meet the highest quality. Supplement or shirt, gym bag or article. This man does not let 1 single thing go out to the public that has not been tested to the ultimate limit. With that out of the way let me tell you a little about the author of this article.
From age 5, when I first saw Arnold in Conan the Barbarian, I had a fixation with the muscular physique. At age 13, I got my first gym membership. Armed with ZERO knowledge of bodybuilding, but the drive to work, I managed to build an impressive 130 pound physique. Fast forward 10 years or so, with a lot of hard work, and learning a thing or two, I was able to build something I was proud of. Did I win the Olympia? No. Did I win even a local contest? No, but that wasn’t what it was about. It was about making me feel good about the carcass I carry around all day, and pushing myself past what most other people find as acceptable.
I was dedicated to the gym from age 13 to 30, but then I had a bad time, and took 9 years off from the gym. 9 years?!?!?! Yes, 9 years, people become doctors in that time, people kill and get out of prison in that time. But child birth, marriage, moving, buying a house, death of family, drug addiction, career changes, accidents, surgeries, and all the other fun stuff got in the way. Now I can sit here and lie to you and say that this was the reason that I didn’t train for 9 years, but it wasn’t. The truth? I got lazy, complacent, but worst of all I got civilized. Never become civilized, we always need to strive for more, go to darker places, face our fear, and accept the war that is waged in all of us…no matter what it is. I am now back in the gym and I have every reason to skip it and forever accept the dad bod. No way, not me. I will not be Al Bundy, talking about how jacked I USED to be or how much I USED to bench. I will be the guy at the PTA meetings (yes, I actually do go to those) that the other parents say “What is WRONG with him?” “Who is HE trying to impress”? I want to be THAT GUY.
So warm-up is done, now let’s back to what I want to talk about. Getting the most out of nothing. Like I said, I just started back in the gym, I am not 25 anymore, I don’t have all day to spend at the gym, nor do I have the luxury of going whenever I want. So, I have to plan ahead, make arrangements, and make sacrifices.
Being a student of the gym and bodybuilding, I have read and tried almost every single workout that has ever been developed. For most of my life, I had stuck by the tried and true, 1970’s era, Arnold used and approved high volume workout. 20 sets for smaller muscles like biceps, and 30-40 sets for large muscle groups, like lats and chest, were not uncommon. However, as indicated above, I do not have the time to venture into this type of workout, I need something that can be done in 30-40 minutes. I then found the DC (DoggCrapp) Dante’s workout. I looked it over and it looked good. I did see this about 10 years ago, and gave it try then, but I did not give it the time or attention to see if it actually worked. I gave DC a try, but I do not like going to the gym every other day. It does not fit into my current lifestyle, and just overall doesn’t work for me. I did remember a workout I had done properly a long time ago. Demon Training (DT) aka Beyond Failure Training, invented by the late Trevor Smith. I then looked that workout up (thank you God for the internet) and reviewed the schedule. This was more to my liking, and as I said, I was familiar with the program, as I done it before, but over 11 years ago. I then decided to “invent” my own program. Now, I am NOT saying that I have invented the program I am currently doing, I am stealing bits and pieces of various protocols, mainly from Demon Training and DC Training to make this workout. Similar to Eddie Van Halen, he did not invent the electric guitar, he merely customized it to fit his needs. So without further delay here it is:
- 2 warm up sets of Seated Machine Bench Press 12-15 reps
- 2 Sets of Seated Bench Press in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Incline Seated Bench Press in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of a Fly Movement (Dumbbells or Machine) in the DT fashion
- 2 warm up sets of Standing Barbell Curls 12-15 reps
- 1 Set of Standing Barbell Curls -Run the Rack
- 1 Set of Standing Dumbbells Curls-Run the Rack
- 2 Sets of Hammer Curls or Reverse Grip Curls
- 2 warm up sets of Seated Machine Lat Pulldown
- 2 Sets of Seated Machine Lat Pulldown in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Seated machine Rows in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Reverse Grip Machine Lat Pulldown in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Bent Lateral Side Raises in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Seated Machine Rear Delts in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Shrugs in the DT fashion
- 2 warm up sets of Seated Machine Military Press
- 2 Sets of Seated Military Press in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Dumbbell Lateral Raised in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Seated Machine Lateral Press in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Front Hammer Raises in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Machine Dips in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets Machine Tricep Extension in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets Tricep Pushdowns (Handle Will Vary) in the DT fashion
- 2 sets warm up Squats
- 4 sets of 5 reps of Squats
- 1 set of Squats using the Widowmaker
- 2 Sets of Leg Press in the DT fashion
- 2 sets of Leg Extensions in the DT fashion
- 2 Sets of Leg Curls in the DT fashion
- 1 Set of Calf Raises in DC fashion
Now there is a lot to unpack here. First, a few things to clarify. I came up with this workout because I have only 30 minutes to workout 5 days per week. I need to train during my lunch break at work. So, within 60 minutes, I need to get to my car, drive to the gym, change my clothes, workout, change back into my clothes, drive back to work. With everything, I know it gives me about 30 minutes to actually hit the weights, so I make the most out of that time. When I hit the gym floor, I look at the clock, and I know I have 30 minutes to get everything in. Now, another question, why so many “machine” exercises? Ok, here it is. I work out at Planet Fitness. Now for those of you that have not closed the browser window, let me explain. I can only workout when I am at work. The only 2 gyms close enough to my place of employment is Planet Fitness and Anytime Fitness. I chose Planet Fitness because it is only $10 per month. When I first got there, I saw almost ZERO weights, only Smith Machines, that are always, and I mean ALWAYS taken up by some young woman doing a glute exercise. I thought, “I gotta get outta here”. But I have grown to actually like the machines. At my age, and with my injuries, they are beneficial to keeping me in the gym and not on the injured reserve list. Also, some of the machines are really great. The lat pulldown machine, puts you in an almost perfect position for hitting your lats. And lastly, because of this training style, which we will get into next, machines with stacked plates, really help with changing the weight quickly. Besides, someone once told me hardcore is not the gym you are at, it is in your mind.
Next, let’s talk about the warmup sets. I use a weight that I can get a good 12 to 15 reps. I don’t exert myself, but I am not just going through the motions either. Just a couple of nice sets to get the blood flowing (as someone once famously said “Nothing big, just so I know I’ll get a good pump”) and to feel the range of motion for the exercise. Now, you must be asking what is “in the DT fashion”. This was one of the main principles of Demon Training. Basically, it is a drop set. I will pick a weight for an exercise. Let’s use the Seated Bench Press. For simplicity sake, let’s say you set it at 100 lbs. you begin your set. Slow, controlled movement, making sure you feel the muscle working. Then you go to failure, around the 8 rep mark. Once you cannot do a full rep, do a couple partial reps (half reps, cheat reps). Once you are spent, immediately drop the weight by 30-40%. So now we’re on 60lbs. Start doing the reps, until you cannot do another full rep. Then do your partial reps. Once your done, drop it by another 30-40%. So now we’re on 30lbs. Start doing your full reps. Once you hit the wall at your full reps, do a few partial reps, and when you can’t do anymore, you are done. That is 1 set. Rest for about 60 seconds and go for round 2. Now, you won’t be able to do another set starting at 100lbs. you might need to start at 80lbs or 70lbs, but the same principles apply. Another big piece to Demon Training was negative reps, I work out alone, so I cannot do negatives, that is where the partial reps, come in. The goal is to completely obliterate the muscle in those couple sets. Believe me, when you are done a set, you will know you put in the work.
For Biceps, you see ‘Run the Rack’. Running the Rack is starting at a lighter weight, something you can do 12-15 reps with. Then you progressively go up the dumbbells rack, every 5 lbs. Hit at least 8 reps, until you get to the heaviest weight you can do for 6 reps. Once you hit that weight, GO BACK DOWN. Yes, go back down to the weight you started at and hit that until you cannot complete another full rep. Then hit some partial reps, and that’s it DONE.
The other aspect is the “Widowmaker”. The Widowmaker is only used for squats. For squats, you are doing 4 sets of 5 reps. Then you your Widowmaker set. That set is when you lift the SAME weight you used for the last set of 5 reps, but you perform 20 reps. Now, this might seem impossible, because you did 5 reps with this weight, and now 20! But you do them at a slower pace. Meaning, say you perform 4-5 reps, now you are standing up with the bar across your back. Take some deep breaths, refocus yourself, bang out another 4-5 reps. The weight is still on your back, take second to take some deep breaths again, get focused, then hot another 4 reps. Now we are at 14 reps. Again, take some breaths, and hit 2 reps, 3 if you can, it whatever you can do. Now, we are at 16 reps, hit your last 4 reps and then rack the bar.
By the time you are done this workout, if done correctly, you should be spent. Unfortunately for me, I have to run back into the locker room, throw back on my shirt and tie, drive back to work, and get back to my desk, as quickly as possible. That is where I can take a few breaths, while I allow my hands to stop shaking from the shock I just gave my body.
But the point of this workout, is also a life lesson. You might have a million excuses not to go to the gym, I could probably name them. But you shouldn’t skip the gym, and deep down you know you CAN’T. That first day we all entered the gym, we knew mediocrity was not in our genes. We wanted to push ourselves harder and farther than others. We wanted something more from ourselves. In pursuit of that, we will find any and all ways to make it happen. Even if it’s going to a giant purple gym for only 30 minutes, that’s more than the other person did, but more importantly it’s more than what YOU DID. And will continue to do no matter the obstacles in front of you.
This workout isn’t for everyone, I get that, but even if it isn’t, I hope that after you’re done reading this, you will find something in your life that you miss, or have been avoiding, and you figure out a way to make it happen. It might be baby steps, it might small, but you are getting it done. And at the end of the day, that is all that matters.