How I’m Breaking Out of My Training Rut: The Lean Hybrid Muscle Strength and Conditioning Program
Written on February 8, 2011 at 12:01 am, by Eric Cressey
The baseball off-season is a lot of fun for me, but it also means crazy long hours, loads of competing demands, and quite a bit of stress. To take it a step further, though, most of my long hours are spent on my feet on the floor at Cressey Performance, which isn’t exactly conducive to making progress in a training program. Topping it off, we’ve gotten about 470 feet of snow in the Northeast this winter, which makes us all want to simply go into hibernation!
While I’ve gotten all my gym sessions in during this time, the reality is that in many cases, they were a lot more like “working out” than they were “training.” And, although I haven’t wasted away, it’s never a good sign when someone you haven’t seen for a few months asks you if you’ve lost weight when you haven’t been trying to do so – and that happened a few weeks ago.
The end result? I’m under 190 for the first time in over two years – and sadly, I’m not really any leaner (or stronger, for that matter).
Something clicked two weekends ago, though. Since the gym is closed on Sundays, I find it’s the best day for me to go in refreshed and get in a good lift. Thanks to a little rest, loud music, and a good training partner, I sumo deadlifted 500 for a set of five. And, it felt damn good!
It also made me realize how much of a pansy I’d been in the gym for the two months prior. With that realization, I headed home to put a program for myself on my to-do list.
The next morning, I woke up anticipating writing that strength and conditioning program (along with about a dozen others!), but before I could get to it, I found an email from Mike Westerdal waiting for me. And that email included an advanced copy of the new product he created with Elliott Hulse: Lean Hybrid Muscle.
For those who don’t know of Mike, he’s a strong dude, with competition bests of 640 squat, 630 bench, and 600 deadlift at a body weight of 242. And, through his website, criticalbench.com, he’s helped thousands of guys bust through their bench press plateaus, not to mention interacted with and programmed for a lot of experienced lifters. Elliott is no quack, either; he is a professional strongman and runs a hardcore gym in Tampa, FL.
I’ve often reminded my readers that that if you need a contract written, you’d go to a lawyer. If you needed your taxes done, you’d go to an accountant. Well, I’m also here to say that if you need a program to kick you in the arse when you’ve been training like a sissy, you go to qualified lifters and coaches who have consistently helped people get strong, burn fat fast, and put on muscle. And that’s what I did.
And, I’ve definitely received that kick in the arse. The past 10 days of training have been some of the more challenging I’ve encountered in over a decade of lifting. And, just as Westerdal assured me, it has been a nice change of pace from the powerlifting-oriented work I’ve done in the past. Here’s what I like about the program:
1. Concurrent Periodization – it might be high volume, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to increase strength. If your goal is changing body composition – and not just dropping fat or building muscle exclusively – it’s a great resource. Anybody can get you to lose weight with a high volume program, but not everyone can help you maintain or even increase strength and build muscle mass in the process.
2. Video Demonstrations – Mike and Elliott have links to every exercise featured in this strength and conditioning program, so if you don’t recognize one, you can quickly and easily check it out. I know my stuff in this regard, but it was helpful when I came across a few new ones that these guys must have invented themselves.
3. Versatility – I’m fortunate to have quite a few extra goodies – sledgehammers, farmer’s walks handles, tires, turf, kettlebells, sleds, slideboards, kegs – at my fingertips, and Mike and Elliott are all about incorporating what you’ve got into the strength training program. I’ve used it to modify the interval work included in the program. They also give you a wide variety of strength exercises from which to choose so that you can work around injuries or specialize on your weak areas.
The benefits certainly go well beyond these three points (the nutrition component/meal plans are excellent, for instance), but in the interest of brevity, I’d highly encourage you to check out Lean Hybrid Muscle. It actually makes for a great follow-up to Show and Go, for those of you who are just wrapping up that program.