Turbulence Training Under the Microscope: An Interview with Craig Ballantyne

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Craig Ballantyne is one of the most widely published and successful guys in our industry – and for a good reason: he gets results. His Turbulence Training protocols have helped thousand of people get lean over the past few years, and with summer upon us, I figured it would be a great time to track Craig down for an interview.

EC: Let’s be honest: every Average Joe trainer under the sun has an e-book or 5-minute guide to sucker misinformed housewives into shelling out hundreds of dollars to learn the “hidden secret” of fat loss. Frankly, I’ve had hundreds of products along these lines cross my path in the past few years, and the only two that have withstood the test of time – and yielded outstanding results time-and-time again are yours and Cosgrove’s. I know about your programming, but let’s enlighten our readers a bit about what makes Turbulence Training so effective.

CB: I think there are a lot of other good ideas and programs out there; not a day goes by that I don’t get a good idea from another trainer.  Maybe Alwyn and I just claimed the catchiest names – or maybe it’s the Scottish last name.

What I’ve done over the years is take my experience in research, and in training athletes, and in working with busy people with minimal equipment, and rolled that up into a program that meets the needs of my readers.

I’ve adapted the program quite a bit over the years because users have demanded changes. For example, in the past, it used to focus on barbell exercises, but now includes only dumbbell and body weight training exercises (with the exception of my more advanced “Fusion and Synergy” fat loss programs).

The principles remain the same, though. We use more intense strength training than traditional programs (lower reps, not as low as a powerlifter, but lower than 99% of fat loss programs recommended in the past – although this is changing as the approach becomes more popular).

Each workout uses supersets. This gets the workout done faster. I also use what I call “non-competing” supersets, basically referring to supersetting two exercises that don’t use the same muscles – including grip strength.

So, a dumbbell split squat and a dumbbell chest press would be non-competing. A dumbbell reverse lunge and a dumbbell row would be competing, because they both demand intense grip work. So, I’d avoid the lunge-row combo.

And then we finish up each workout with interval training. This, too, has evolved over the years. I used to recommend basic 30-second intervals, with 60-second recovery, done on a bike or treadmill (or sprints outside). Now I’m using bodyweight circuits in place of intervals, or sometimes barbell complexes, or sometimes even high-rep dumbbell work.

These changes have all been based on feedback from users. For example, a lot of Turbulence TrainingSo, we use body weight training circuits instead. These are great and can be adapted for any fitness level. readers work out at home with nothing but dumbbells and a bench; they don’t have a machine for cardio.

For the interval type circuits, I like to use six total bodyweight exercises, three lower body and three upper body. Then just alternate between upper and lower in a 6-exercise circuit.

So bottom line, a Turbulence Training workout will run like this:

5-minute body weight warm-up

20-minutes superset strength training

18-minutes interval training

7-minutes stretching or mobility work

We do three hard workouts per week, yet I emphasize that everyday is an exercise day (that is, on the four days you don’t do a hard Turbulence Training workout, you must still get 30 minutes of activity – preferably something you enjoy and enables you to spend time with family or friends).

EC: Along these same lines, where are most fat loss programs falling short? Where are people missing the boat?

CB: Mostly in nutrition, to be frank.

But as for the workout component, relying solely on long, slow cardio exercise to build the body of your dreams is only going to lead to pain and frustration from a lack of results.

It is simply not an efficient way to exercise for fat loss. If you only have 45 minutes to exercise, and you spend 40 of those minutes on a cardio machine, then you have no hope of building the body you want.

The cardio mindset is all about breaking down the body, burning calories, and looking negatively at food (i.e. how much exercise can I do to punish myself for eating this brownie?). It’s that 1980s aerobic-high carbohydrate mentality that has literally ruined people’s lives by leading them down the wrong physical path.

The Turbulence Training fat loss mindset is positive, and is focused on building the body, boosting the metabolism, and developing positive nutrition rituals that fuel your body for mental and physical performance.

Another mistake of fat loss programs is focusing on the “calories burned”. Just like the nutrition industry is slowly starting to recognize that a “calorie isn’t always a calorie”, we need to accept that the number of calories burned in a workout is not the main determinant of fat loss success.

First, machine calorie counters are notoriously inaccurate. Second, you can wipe out all the calories you just burned in about 30 seconds with a Starbucks summer drink. And finally, we need to look at the bigger question – and that is how does your workout affect your daily metabolism?

I believe a high-intensity workout – like Turbulence Training – leads to better results because it focuses on boosting your metabolism. So while you won’t burn as many calories during the workout – according to the machine – you end up burning more fat over the course of the day and week. And that’s the bottom line.

EC: Memorial Day weekend was the unofficial start to summer, meaning that millions of people are scrambling to get as lean as possible as fast as possible. If you had to give them three bits of advice, what would they be?

CB: First, your nutrition is going to give you the majority of your results. Find a time when you can go to the grocery store and prepare your meals for the week. Stick to that. Give yourself a little reward each week, but don’t go overboard.

Find out how many calories you eat now. Then cut back on your calories AND try to improve the quality of your nutrition. Take baby steps, and don’t move too quickly. For example, tomorrow, make sure you eat one additional fruit. The day after, add one extra serving of vegetables. The third day, cut out all sugary beverages. And so on.

Second, get social support. Whether you find kindred fat loss spirits on the Internet, at work, in the gym, or at home with a family member, make sure you have someone that you can be accountable to (get a trainer once a week), and that will support you (if your family isn’t supportive, find someone on a good internet forum or a buddy at work).

Social support will keep you out of the wrong eating situations and will always be there to help you hit new personal bests in your workouts. Don’t underestimate what a helping hand can do for your fat loss.

Third, if you really want to succeed, then be prepared to suck it up for a few weeks. After all, what’s eight weeks of discipline over the course of a lifetime? It’s nothing. Just think about the last eight weeks of your life…doesn’t it seem like that time just flew by?

So, if you get serious about your nutrition and consistent with an intense program of strength training and interval training, you can make dramatic changes in four weeks, eight weeks, or whatever is left this summer.

Find a time when you know you can stick to your workout. Don’t let anything get in the way.

And after eight weeks of consistent effort, you’ll have a better body, and this is where it gets good…

You’ll find its much easier to maintain a great body, AND you’ll have built so many healthy habits in those eight weeks that you won’t feel like going back to the old way of living where you ate – and felt – like crap all the time. Plus, you’ll have a consistent exercise habit. It’s a win-win situation to put yourself through an eight-week intensive regimen.

EC: Tell us about Turbulence Training; what’s the scoop?

CB: This is the one-year anniversary of my program at TurbulenceTraining.com. Over the past year, we’ve helped thousands of people lose fat in less time than ever, and we want to help even more this year.

So I twisted a few arms and rounded up some excellent bonuses that include…

1) Meal Plans for Men & Women by Dr. Chris Mohr (Value $99)

2) How to Measure Your Body Fat by Dr. John Berardi (Value $29.97)

3) High-Octane, Fat Burning Recipes by Mike Roussell (Value $19.99)

4) How Hormones Affect Your Fat Loss: A Special Report from Dr. Holly Lucille & Jon Benson (Value $19.99)

5) A One-Month Bonus Trial at Global-Fitness (Value $9.95)

6) The Turbulence Training Hardcore Fat Loss 4-Week Program by Craig Ballantyne (Value $19.99)

7) A Three-Month Basic Level Membership to the Turbulence Training Discussion Forums & Other Exclusive Fat Loss Info (Value $59.85)

If readers are curious, they can check them out at TurbulenceTraining.com.