Monday, August 6, 2012

BB Body Beast: Excellent Program, Questionable nutrition guidelines and supplements.

More and more people in dedicated BodyBeast group on Facebook are complaining about getting a lot of weight gain by following Body Beast nutritional recommendations. Apparently, that's not all muscles but fat as well.

Body Beast is an excellent and well-balanced bodybuilding program.

Body Beast diet, however, is very high in calories (which is not surprising for such high-demand program), but it also high in carbohydrates. And while one recommended supplement - Base Shake looks really good in its nutrition components, another one called BeachBody Fuel Shot  - is, in my semi-educated opinion, a useless fiasco.
To, "instantly trigger an insulin response with its high glycemic index (GI), for more energy and faster recovery during and after workouts" one could use Coca instead - with pretty much the same harmful results.

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 scoop (55g)
Calories 210
Cholesterol         10 mg - 4%
Total Carbohydrates 47 g - 16%
Sugar               24 g
Protein              5 g - 10 %
Calcium (from Whey Protein Concentrate) 32 mg  - 8%
Sodium              70 mg - 3%
Potassium (from Whey Protein Concentrate, Potassium Phosphate) - 280 mg - 8%

Ingredients: Natural Carbohydrate complex (Dextrose, Maltrodexin), Whey protein concentrate, Potassium phosphate, Carrageenan, and Sodium chloride.

Compare it with ingredients in PSN PowerShot Elite and Recovery Shot!

I'm not following Body Beast nutritional guidelines. I have my own rules which work fine to me. I don't believe blindly to everything BB recommends.

Related -

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A new Body Beast program by Sagi Kalev & BeachBody

My impressions from reading Body Beast manual

I'd like you to know that BeachBody recently released a new program, called Body Beast (here it is on Facebook and on Google+.) This is a bodybuilder-style workout, its purpose for men to get maximum muscle mass / strength / physique. As it well known, women react on exercises differently due to different hormone levels, so the same bodybuilder programs don't get bulky, but rather fit and ripped (unless steroids are taken.)
Program is designed by Sagi Kalev, "The former two-time "Mr. Israel" and fitnessmodel, bodybuilding title-holder, and nutritionist and resident of Dallas, Texas, immigrated to the United States in 1993 to pursue bodybuilding and modeling" – says Wikipedia.
I'm going to try this program by myself, although I'm not sure if / when I would delve into it completely. I have too many workouts I'm doing and love.
Still, if any of you become interested, want more information or decide to buy Body Beast, please let me know. I'm still a BB coach...

A few words from what I read in Body Beast manual (got it yesterday):
1. It seems to be a real no-bluff bodybuilding program written by real man. Not a crap like Les Mills Pump.
2. A good thing is that BB did not bundle Body Beast program with set of hardware, because of that Body Beast is cheap. You'll need to choose what hardware and where you will buy; as usually BB has almost everything.
You will need a set of dumbbells (resistance bands are acceptable but a not so good substitute), you'd better have an EZ Curl barbell (they are cheap on Amazon), you'd better have an inclined weightlifting bench (I don't have space for it at home... idk... maybe I do ;-)  ).  A "step" bench from LM Pump might work as a substitute and using a stability ball instead of a bench is suggested as an initial option. Still, ideally you'd have a weightlifting bench and squat stand...
Pull-up bar is necessary / highly recommended, but that's not a problem.
3. 6 days per week for one hour a day is too much.
3.1 This is especially true for older athletes. Many credible sources explain that with age training sessions should be abbreviated. Read this book by Brooks Kubik, for example.
3.2 6-days per week one hour per day schedule of P90X and Body Beast may be good for younger people who just start with a fitness and are not participating in other programs. Experienced people - like us - often are already doing many other things, basically have their own routine. For example, I'm not going to stop GMB gymnastic rings training, nor kettlebells and clubbells, nor body-weight exercises, nor running, biking and swimming, nor rock climbing.  But that's OK: I would just need to pick what I really need from Body Beast, do it less often and selectively.
4. While Sagi Kalev is a real man, who knows what he is doing, it seems to be that Beachbody added its usual questionable marketing like "Dynamic Set Training™, a sports science breakthrough", "Muscle Confusion" (all these things are known and not invented by BB), and "Training to the point of Failure" (an outdated concept - most trainers now say that a workout should be stopped, while a trainee still able to perform)
5. BeachBody offers a new line of supplements along with Body Beast. While they might be good, and while taking supplements makes sense (I'm doing that), often you can find better and cheaper analogs on Amazon.

Note, that if you’re looking more into strength gaining rather than physique, Maximum Strength book by Eric Cressey might be a better and cheaper option.

Another recently released BB program is Tai Cheng workout (on Googel+) - a variant of Tai Chi taught by Dr. Mark Cheng.

An Update of 6/28/2012: My impressions from a very first workout, called “Chest and Tris”

  1. Positives
    a) A was pleasantly surprised by Sagi Kalev’s style, clear, intelligent, and not “pushy” at all – unlike crazy BB BB commercial I saw before.
    b) Sagi Kalev and his buddies are actually working. It’s just like P90X or Chalean, and unlike flashy LM Pump trainers which just pretend they’re doing a workout.
    c) On-screen table shows timing and necessary repetitions for a current exercise.
    d) Exercises are great and difficult.
  2. Negatives
    a) Although warm-up and cool-down are present and seem to be designed to target areas specific for a current workout, they are very abbreviated. Nothing like what Tony Horton provides in P90X. Just a couple of minutes each. Clearly not enough. Older trainee – beware! If you don’t want injuries, you have to do additional warm-ups and cool-downs. There are many great resources on the web. I suggest you to look at my YouTube list and assemble something from it – whatever suites you. My personal preference is a warm-up showed by famous kettlebell trainer Mike Mahler, I do it every day. Also, there are excellent warm-up and cool-down routines included by CST guru Scott Sonnon and his numerous trainers. Finally, here are two superb and original warm-up programs offered by real pros, doctors and weight-lifters: Magnificent Mobility and Inside-Out: The Ultimate Upper Body Warm-up.
    For cool-downs use static stretches from yoga routines.
    b) On the first workout, one guy (I think his name was Sean, he is a white guy) showed how to substitute inclined bench with a stability ball. Looks like it isn’t a good idea; when performing declined pushups, he couldn’t keep his lumbar area straight and had it arched down (anterior pelvic tilt). That’s how pushups shouldn’t be done, an easy way to injure your lower back.
  3. Equipment notes
    a) I bought a cheap standard (diameter 1”)  EZ-Curl barbell in addition to a straight barbell I got with LM Pump. But for the first Body Beast workout it is not needed. You’ll only need a comprehensive set of heavy dumbbells.
    b) I don’t have a weight-lifting bench at home and tried to use step-bench which came with LM Pump as a horizontal bench and a stability ball instead of an inclined bench. Both turned out to be very inconvenient. That’s not a way to go, if you want to do BB most effectively, a weight-lifting bench is a must. It would be nice (but not necessary) to have a bench with a barbell stand, and there is a perfect foldable one on Amazon - Best Fitness BFOB10 Olympic Bench, but sadly a commenter said, it only suitable for barbells 6'” + long…
  4. Conclusion
    A very good workout overall. Pretty damn hard.
    If you successfully completed P90X before (or Chalean Extreme, for that matter) you should be up to the task. If you’re not I a best shape, I’s suggest to start from something not so demanding… from P90X or Chalean.
    Be sure to watch videos before actually following along. Its system may be not as easy from the beginning, until you get it. Good luck!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"How to use a Cablebar/TRX Rip Trainer" by Naudi AGuilar


I started to do exercises from "How to use a Cablebar/TRX Rip Trainer" by Naudi AGuilar at this morning and liked it very much. I immediately felt that rotational strength is my weak area, which I need to address. And I don't know any other workout which targets it as directly as this one. I own Basic DVD which came with TRX Rip Trainer and also got some additional TRX workouts which include Rip Trainer exercises, but they water it down by regular TRX, so there is only a few rotational exercises.

I like that "How to use a Cablebar/TRX Rip Trainer" is both an instructional video and a follow-along video; Naudi maintains a great balance between explanations and actual exercises.
He has short YouTube videos showing each Cablebar movement and a picture of each movement at

In my opinion, there is only one part missing, and by adding it you would get a complete course which could even be packed on DVD. I would be a first person to buy such a DVD.
What's missing is a PDF file with detailed explanation of exercises, pictures, and the sample workout. Basically, you would just need to write down what you're saying on an existing video - everything is already here.

Thank you for a great product, Naudi.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Functional Training vs. Isolation Training

+Yuri Wolf asked me a very interesting question. I think this G+ topic is so important in fitness, I decided to post it again here. I'm going to disable comments. Instead, please comment on my original post at
Yuri Wolf - +Vladimir Kelman - could you please comment on the following:
A few years ago I took a short fitness course at NIH. The trainer, an ex-army PT instructor by his words, put a lot of emphasis on two keywords: slow and isolation. Essentially, all motions (this includes all exercises with weights) should be as slow as possible and I should make sure to be able to stop the movement any time. Moreover, the whole body must be as static as possible with only target group of muscles involved - heavens forbid I pull the weights with my back muscles if I'm doing a biceps curl.
As far as I understand, kettlebells are the opposite of that - the exercise is highly dynamic and every motion involves many muscles from ankles to wrists.
Changing fashions? Or there is something more rational behind these different schools? 

1. Slow movement.
That's a bit easier. As you know, there are different types of training.
On one pole, a pure Strength / Muscle Volume Training requires heavy weights, slow motion, minimum repetitions, isolation.
On an opposite pole, a pure Cardiovascular Training requires little to no weights, fast movements, a lot of repetitions.
Endurance Training may require some weights, requires regular speed movements, a lot of repetitions.
Kettlebell workouts are often constitute a super-high intensity cardiovascular training , but also include definite elements of both endurance and strength training (heavy weights). Most often kettlebells workouts are not intended for pure muscle volume gains.
2. Isolation.
Isolation is still important for pure muscle volume, strength training. Heavy weight lifters are for sure familiar with isolation. But smart weight lifters do not only isolation exercises, but even more functional training, which includes synchronized work of a significant parts of a body together, in sync.
Functional Training is a very popular, I's say a prevalent tendency now. It's a reaction to screwed fitness model of gyms, which put most emphasis to weight machines exercises. Machines provides a highest level of isolation... and they are extremely dangerous. Modern fitness says, that machines should be used only as helpers, as specialized tools for fixing some particular muscle weakness.
The great danger in using machines (and, to a less degree, heavy-weight lifting, biceps curls, bench presses, etc.) is that they lead to unbalanced body development. I.e. - strong biceps and weak triceps, undeveloped core. This leads to injuries. Those injuries not necessary happen in a gym, they happen outside. Unbalanced body, not trained to use [strong] muscles in sync, not trained to do compound and fast moves suffers a lot.
Moreover, not only a bias toward isolation is a cause of injuries, it also does not produce endurance, does not train a heart, and - surprisingly, - is less effective in developing muscle strength (and power). Modern theory says, that big compound moves (which might be slow) are more effective for gaining functional strength and even muscle volume. Basically, you give your body a much harder task, on which it responds by developing more power and strength.
3. A Good Form.
Functional training, kettlebells, etc. may be very dangerous as well. Big and sometimes fast moves can lead to improper form during exercises, which leads to spine injuries, knee injuries, etc. Improper form also prevents from muscle strength development. Just ask +Alexey Egorov of how much good kettlebell programs put emphasis on a proper form. Systems like SKOGG, Art of Strength, Mike Mahler's programs spend a lot of time on teaching proper technique, maintaining a form. That's an imperative.
The best book I ever read, which explains why old fashioned bodyweight functional training is far superior to modern machines and is healthier than heavy weight lifting is an ingenious Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade. Another interesting Dragon Door’s book is Raising The Bar by Al Kavadlo.
BTW, one single reason why I like P90X so much that even became a BeachBody Independent Coach ( ) is that P90X is much more a functional, synced, balanced training, than an isolation one.

Apr 4 11:26 AM (edited)  -  Edit


Yuri Wolf  -  Thanks! This makes a lot of sense. A couple of comments/questions:
- heavy weights, slow motion, minimum repetitions, isolation - that NIH Fitness Center trainer gave the following algorithm: weights that allow you less than 10 reps are too heavy for you; weights that allow you more than than 20 reps are too light. He recommended to select the load that gives 10-12 reps; try to stay at 15 reps most of the time; as soon as you feel you can do 20, up the load one notch. Where does it put his program on the Strength - Endurance - Cardio scale?
- kettlebells, as I understand, are much heavier than typical exercise dumbbells. Still, as you say, the key of functional training is multiple repetitions. How do you achieve it with kettlebells? By involving a lot of different muscles in each move, so the load is more distributed?

Apr 4 6:00 PM


Vladimir Kelman  -  You know, I'm not a professional, I'm just learning. Obviously, these numbers are not carved in stone. +Tony Horton in P90X course recommends weights which allow you to do 8-10 reps as strength training, 10-15 - as endurance tool. Pretty similar, right?
Kettlebells allow for many different exercises, but - as I understand on this moment - a majority of kettlebell exercises use pendulum, inertia, not slow "static" muscular moves which are more often used with dumbbells. These classic kettlebell moves - swing, clean, snatch, jerk - surprisingly employee more hip and core strength than hand muscles. They are really technical, these moves, more like an art. That's why - to my and Alex Egorov's big surprise they are so interesting, so dynamic / cardiovascular, and that's why it's possible to use heavy bells. (We both are doing SKOGG System kettlebell workouts)
I'm just a beginner, though - and have a seriously damaged lower back. So, I currently train with 12 kg (26.45 lbs.), 16 kg (35.27 LBS), and I am starting to use 24 kg (52.91 lbs.) for two hands swing only.

Apr 4 6:42 PM (edited)  -  Edit

Yuri Wolf  -  Pretty similar, right? - indeed!
They are really technical, these moves, more like an art - Yes, this is probably where a question of form becomes really important. Easy to hurt yourself with a wrong move.
Thanks a lot for your comments!

Apr 5 10:27 PM

Vladimir Kelman  -  I posted that question on TRX forum without asking you first, but I thought it's kind of interesting to everybody public question. Got a couple of responses there too.
TRX itself is a Suspension Training and is very functional.

Apr 5 12:36 AM  -  Edit

Yuri Wolf  -  I posted that question on TRX forum without asking you first - sure, it's a question on an open forum, belongs to the public. :-)
Got a couple of responses there too - yes, the experts seem to agree.

An Update:

The Circular Strength Training System® and Clubbells

This is simply a quintessence of a functional training. This is a whole new and exciting world. Scott Sonnon - an inventor of Clubbells - is a very accomplished martial artist , former champion in several styles, including Russian Sambo, US Team trainer. Scott Sonnon was voted one of "The 6 Most Influential Martial Artists of the 21st Century" by Black Belt Magazine in 2010.

His Circular Strength Training (CST) is ingenious. Read about it on RMax International and look for YouTube clips.
I'm just entering the wonderful world of CST. Today I did their Group eXercise DVD workout for a very first time. I did it partially, because it was too hard. Other programs created by Scott Sonnon are equally exciting. Look for Intu-Flow, Body-Flow, FlowFit, Prasara Yoga. Don’t miss downloadable TACFIT® Programs – another ultimate tool for learning advanced body movements.

I noticed that very often systems offered by martial artists are extremely healthy, well balanced, simply  the best. This apply to programs by Scott Sonnon, as well as programs offered by My Mad Methods, such as Evolution Kettlebell Groundwork DVD; Combat Kettlebell Systems and Shadow-Jitsu Bodyweight Training DVDs (with former professional MMA fighter and competitive grappler, Joey Alvarado)

Finally - rock climbing is great, combining it with calisthenics on pull-up bar, dip bars, and on a floor. Again, I cannot recommend more reading "Convict Conditioning" and "Raising the Bar" books by Dragon Doors.

An example of a Heavy Bodyweight + Clubbell Workout Day

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some links for Kettlebell History

Today I received another email from famous Brooks Kubik Dinosaur Training email subscription, called Old School Iron!

What surprised me was the following Brook’s sentence,
”In fact, there are photos of some famous old gyms from the 1880 to 1920 period where the equipment consists entirely of globe barbells, a couple of globe dumbbells, and some kettlebells and ring weights. Nothing else.”

After reading numerous materials published by Dragon Door and other resources, I was under strong impression that kettlebells were introduced to USA by Pavel Tsatsouline about 12 years ago and were virtually unknown before. It turned out Brooks were right: I fell a victim of Dragon Door infomercial. While kettlebells weren’t common in Europe and US for last 70 years or so (bad-to-the-health commercial weight lifting machines mostly replaced functional bodyweight and free weight training there), they were known even in the beginning of 20-s Century.

The Kettlebells USA site says,
”Kettlebells were used extensively by old time strongmen such as Arthur Saxon, Sig Klein, Clevio Massimo and The Mighty Apollo. They were once a common staple in American gyms and training academies and were often called “Ring Weights”.”
And it proves its words by this great sequence of historic photographs.

In fact, a title page of The Text Book of Weightlifting by Arthur Saxon pictures him doing a kettlebell exercise.

Anta’s Fitness & Self Defense site says,
”In the early 1900's musclemen, bodybuilders and strong men of Europe, Canada and America like Arthur Saxon, Sig Klein, Louis Cyr and Eugen Sandow, to name a few all trained with kettlebells just like the Russian strongmen and athletes. Yet, while KB's disappeared in the West they began to flourish in the former Soviet Union. Everyone from common people, to the military, to Olympic athletes trained with kettlebells. In 1948 the first kettlebell competition took place in Russia. Later it became Russia's National sport. For more information on Russian Kettlebell history read “The Russian Kettlebell Challenge, Xtreme Fitness for Hard Living Comrades” by Pavel Tsatsouline.”

The Christian Science Monitor, The strongman 'kettlebell' makes a comeback at the gym
Winnipeg Free Press, Saved by the kettlebell
YouTube, A Brief History of Kettlebells - Kettlebell Training
KombatKettlebells, WHAT IS A KETTLEBELL?
Soviet Force – Kettlebells History
Powercore Fitness, The History of the Kettlebell
LiveStrong Com, Kettlebell History

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bel Monte Endurance Race 50 miles - not exactly a result to be proud of…

Well, I dropped off at the 41-mile aid station. The course proved to be too difficult for my training level.

Bel Monte Endurance Race 50-miles endurance run was held on Saturday, March 24 and is organized by the same the folks from Charlottesville Running Company / Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports - Gill and Francesca Conte, etc. - who organizes the Ultra Race of Champions 100K (UROC) and the Uber Rock 50K which I run twice, last time - this September.
Famous ultra-marathon runners participate In UROC; in September 2011 was won by Geoff Roes, a second place taken by the same Mike Wardian, who won Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in DC a week ago – a race in which I and my friend Alex Egorov also participated.
Bel Monte Endurance Race includes 50K, 50 miles, and 50 miles mountain bike competition and is apparently a lower-profile event, but boy – these courses are is beautiful and runs are much harder than Uber Rock 50K!

I’m probably trying to pursue too many different agendas now – performing LM Pump, TRX, and kettlebell fitness programs, participating in a month-long climber conditioning class in our rock gym, and in Total Immersion – style swimming class, trying to fix my awful freestyle technique before Ironman 70.3 EagleMan Triathlon in June. For last couple of month some small but nasty injuries are following me. First I got a left knee pain and was suggested to do a minor knee surgery, which I postponed until a break in a season. It didn’t bother me much during Holiday Lake 50K Trail Run on February 11, neither during Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on March 17. Then I developed some intermittent right foot pain, don’t know what is it yet. These injuries didn’t allow me to train properly for Bel Monte 50-miler. Honestly, I didn’t expect such a hard and technical route either.

The weather is unusually warm this March, but on a race day forecast was – all rain. It was raining the whole morning, and after we started at 7:30 sometimes it turned into downpours. Not a pleasant experience on a steep slopes of running course, covered with slippery lose rocks. In addition, I couldn’t see anything through glasses. I felt just one time, but was moving painfully slow. In 50.43 miles of Bel Monte Endurance Run includes 8,879 feet of altitude gain and some ascents are quite steep. But what was killing me were descents on lose wet rocks. In addition, I forgot my Amphipod belt at home and didn’t drink and eat gel often enough. In the middle of the day rain stopped and it becomes hot. I felt miserable, but managed to complete first 50K at acceptable pace. Then it gradually started to rain again. Soon, lack of proper training showed itself and I started to move extremely slow – and couldn’t do anything about it anymore. I reached White Rock gap aid station (mile 40.7) in almost 12 hours, while the official race cut time was 13 hours. It was raining cats and dogs, quite cold, and getting dark. A guy at aid station was packing his stuff into a car and was quite surprised to see me. “Do they know you’re still on a route?”, – he asked. I said – “have no idea”. I asked him what I’m supposed to do, he said – up to you. And I decided to drop off. I was still able to think clearly, but couldn’t move faster than 3 miles per hour or so. It just didn’t make much sense to crawl three more hours in a complete darkness and under a cold rain. I thought – even if I finish it wouldn’t accomplish much. That’s not how I supposed to run a distance. And I gave up. He finished packing his stuff and drove me to finish.

I was still in a workable condition the next day on Sunday and went to our climbing gym to do a “home work” for climbing conditioning class. And today I resumed Les Mills Pump (barbell) workouts I postponed for last ultra-runs. I’m going to check with a doctor what’s going on with my foot. And I need some training strategy to learn how to run on lose rocks, especially – downward. I was always pretty bad on doing it and it hurts my mountain climbing abilities too. Any ideas?

Next big event will be Ironman 70.3 EagleMan Triathlon in June. I was planning to run Promise Land 50K trail run at the end of April, but I’m not sure now. It’s an extremely difficult 50 km, I tried it once 4 years ago.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fitness Addict Reviews. Review #1: Cathe Friedrich STS, Underground Workout Manual, TRX Force.


Friends, I’m going to start a series of Fitness Systems Reviews. These are and will be addict's informal and subjective reviews of only those systems I’m familiar with.

* * *

Let me introduce you today to the following three nice additions to workouts offered by Beach Body (where I am an Independent Coach):

Cathe Friedrich STS
Underground Workout Manual by Brett Klika
TRX Force and other Suspension Gym Training programs

While P90X and personally Tony Horton are my favorites forever, variety never hurt, right?


1. Cathe Friedrich STS
Cathe Friedrich Wednesday afternoon's quick fix workout

Cathe Friedrich workouts (especially STS) are very comprehensive and balanced, similar in that regard to Tony Horton's P90X. It is expensive, but you're getting great all-encompassing training system. Endless amount of DVDs, a new workout every day for 3 month! Cathe recommends doing STS 3 days per week, alternating it with [her] cardio and/or abs exercises. She has great Abs and Core DVDs, equipment, newsletter, affiliation, etc.
In my opinion, STS directly competes with P90X. There are pluses and minuses to both. STS is even more expensive. Cathe lack Tony Horton’s charisma, his great and constant jokes. On the other side, Cathe’s approach is even more scientific and systematic, and as a woman she makes STS less daunting to try. I personally really like a brutal direct approach of P90X. 6 days a week, endless pull-ups and push-ups from the very beginning, an excellent Yoga-X. P90X does bring results!   (My “before” and “after” pictures weren’t produced this way.)
STS might be easier at the beginning but then goes steep as well. It actually combines what is delivered in P90X and P90X2, there are many balance / athletic exercises there. It requires more equipment than P90X, dumbbells, barbell, stability ball, medical balls, [inclined] bench are used from the very beginning.

2. Underground Workout Manual by Brett Klika
On Facebook
Brett on FitnessQuest10 (by Todd Durkin): and

This system is surprisingly low-cost: you can currently buy a package (PDF Manual and workout sheets, online video access) for $39. While it may be not as convenient to use as DVDs and printed materials, this appears to be a surprisingly well-developed and professional system. Workouts are scheduled for an entire 12-weeks program, are versatile, includes proper warm-ups (and cool downs.)  Brett Klika is a recognized trainer – just read about his credentials.
Yet, this low-cost system does not include such a well-developed support as BeachBody provides, coaches, Facebook groups, etc.

I haven’t done his exercises yet, except warm-ups. And these warm-up sequences are excellent! P90X includes various and comprehensive warm-ups, but I still found many nice and original moves in Brett’s videos. I actually use them before Les Mills PUMP and TRX Force workouts. Pump includes very limited warm-ups, which is a shame. TRX Force employees that fast-paced military style. It includes quick warm ups, but that’s not enough for an aging fitness addict, because main workouts are extremely challenging.
Again, I haven’t done main workouts by Brett Klika yet, but something tells me they are very good.

3. TRX Force and other Suspension Gym Training programs
TRX Pro Kit, TRX Rip TrainersTRX Training Bundle
TRX FORCE Training DVD and Guide
NEW! TRX FORCE Tactical Conditioning Program
TRX Training and TRX Force on Google+
A nice review of available suspension systems. Besides TRX there are other valuable alternatives, including Rip 60, Jungle Gym XT, etc.

I fell in an eternal love with P90X four month ago, I’m now in love with TRX Force.

Below is my first day reaction on TRX Force workouts:
TRX Force Workout is not for faint·ish
Just completed my very first TRX Force workout. Holy cow! That's why I'm not a Navy Seal yet! One definitely needs an excellent shape before starting with TRX Force, I would turn P90X completion into a prerequisite and suggest doing TRX Basic Training for a week or two.
And don't forget to fully warm up and prepare your core before putting in that DVD, if you don't want a back surgery...

And just this morning (I’m on a Week 2 (of 12) of TRX Force:
TRX Force Workout #2 is killing me!
I'm happy there is no one around to hear my moans. It's harder than P90X, really.

It’s my belief that suspension training should not be used alone. It differs from all-encompassing systems like P90X or STS. It is more specialized. Many people combine TRX training with kettlebell workouts, you could buy them on TRX site as well, but not actual kettlebells. Here are those workouts, featuring Russian kettlebell superstar Pavel Tsatsouline: TRX Kettlebell: Iron Circuit Conditioning and TRX Kettlebell: Iron Circuit Power.

TRX Force picks where P90X left you and targets perfectly your week areas. It is super-hard on your core. Unless you are a gymnast proficient with Ring Exercises or a CrossFit pro (look at Free Ring Training Guide by CrossFit London), TRX Force will try to kill you. It’s unbelievable joy!

Besides TRX Suspension Trainer, TRX Rip Trainer is a valuable addition. This thing is designed to increase rotational strength of your body core.

TRX is quite expensive, unfortunately. When you buy a suspension kit, it only includes a basic DVD. You’ll need to spend much more to get valuable programs like TRX Force. On the other side, there is a good forum with a lot of links, a lot of TRX videos on YouTube, etc.

Rip 60
An alternative Rip 60 system includes a comprehensive set of workout DVDs with a basic package. May be a better alternative? Who knows.

Jungle Gym XT
Another alternative is provided by LifelineUSA and is called Jungle Gym XT. It has an advantage of using independent suspensions for each hand (leg). This allows to do exercises like Muscle-Ups and Dips (not possible with door anchor, though), which are hard to arrange with TRX or Rip60. LifelineUSA also sells nice kettlebells. Unfortunately, they provide zero infrastructure, nothing like comprehensive TRX forums and workout DVDs. You’d be basically on your own. One might consider buying Jungle Gym XT and TRX workouts combinations…

Update of 06/01/2012:

Yesterday I tried a very first workout from Rip 60. Here are my impressions:
1) A strap for door suspension is “too solid”. It is so thick, I couldn’t close the door. It would prevent me from doing Rip 60, but I used door suspension from TRX, attaching to it the rest of Rip  60 using rock climbing carabiner. Overall, Rip 60 is very solid but a bit too bulky.
2) A key distinction of Rip 60 is suspended rotation. There is a pulley on which suspension strap glide and a pin which allows to fix or to release it. This allows for more core rotation exercises (with TRX you’ll have to buy a Rip Trainer.)
3) Rip 60 includes a very thorough warming / joint mobility workout and a decent cool-down workout. Much better than TRX Force / Tactical Force.
4) A first week Rip 60 workout is a combination of general cardio and actual suspension exercises. It does not include much of core work, so that after finishing it I switched to TRX Force and performed various core exercises from both Force workouts. I expect more serious work and core engagement in subsequent Rip 60 workouts.

Overall, my first impression from Rip 60 workouts is fairly positive. It is balanced, less hardcore suspension specialized than TRX and is more towards general fitness.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100K and UBER ROCK 50K are great endurance run events which start at Wintergreen Resort in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia every September.

I participated in a 50K trail run variation twice, in a year of 2007 and 2012. Going to sign in for this coming UBER ROCK 50K 2012 again, although it happens just a week later after Savageman triathlon which I run too. What I really like about UROC is its democratic nature, so that leading world ultra-runners like Michael Wardian run it along with aging fitness addicts like myself. In September 2011 I met there a well-known in a world of trail runners Scott McCoubrey (he is a creator of White River 50 Mile Endurance Run, among other things) and bought his great minimalistic eRide Ice Runner shoes.

Also, Blue Ridge is just beautiful in September. It’s quite hilly, but 50K variation is still forgiving enough for beginner ultra-runners. It was my very first 50K trail run in September 2007.

Now, just in a week a registration price for this event is going to increase, so I really urge you to register now. I still don’t feel myself confident enough for 100K variation; it will be a first ultra-run competition after summer break too, so I’m going to run 50K again.