The Four Steps

This is the fifth of a set of excerpts from the Intervention DVD.

An interesting thing happens right here…oh, let’s go talk about two things right away. First is standards and then the second thing is what I call the 4 steps. For standards, people love standards. I mean, I get it. My standard standard…and this is the one I have used my whole career…is that one’s bench press, one’s front squat and one’s clean should all be around the same weight. If you have an athlete who comes in with a 600-pound bench press and a 45-pound front squat, by merely getting their front squat up, you will make them a better athlete. It might not make them a better power lifter but a better athlete. I didn’t mean that…that was not a knock on power…I mean, to play football, for example….to do another sport. Will Heffernan makes a very good point about bench presses. He says, ‘If you can bench press body weight times 15, you should be strong enough to do any sport at any level.’ He also includes that down on the squat – if you can back squat body weight times 15. He also includes pull-ups—if you can do 15 pullups, you should be strong enough any time. If you can do those three, you are strong enough to play Division I football. You are.


Now, I can now give you some numbers. To play at the field at USC, you need to go 3, 4, 5—a 300-pound clean, a 400-pound bench press and a 500-pound squat. Now, for women…my good friend, Josh Hillis, is much better than I am at these things. He argues that you should get a goal of doing three pull-ups. He also says three dips too. Down here, a 135-pound squat for 3…a squat for 3…or a deadlift for 3. Those are all reasonable numbers. To play high school football in this day and age, I think you need to clean 205, bench press 205, probably back squat deep at 255 and clean-and-jerk 165. These are all just…I am just throwing numbers out to you.

As we saw earlier with Tom Fahey…you know…Tom says you need a 400 here. Right? A 400-pound bench? Over here, it is interesting because you will need a 250 snatch and a 300 clean. Over here, about a 450 back squat. So the important thing on the slow strength in standards are the ones that I respect…you will notice…tend to have several places. I know this…if you can Farmer Walk body weight –half in one hand and half in the other—you can do it well for a while…you’re You know?

The importance on slow strength is that this is where almost everybody stops. By the way, that’s pretty good. Trust me. If you have Will Heffernan’s standards or Tom Fahey’s standards or Josh Hillis’ standards or the standards I had from Juan Diego – the Big Blue Club and the Big Silver Club—you’re Standards…there is a real value in standards but the problem, as you can see, is that, ‘Boy, there are all these wonderful things in the weight room that we could be doing but we’re not there yet.’

So we are just going to hold for a minute and I am going to show you four very interesting workouts that you can do with a minimal amount of material that carry you both in patterning and slow strength. By the way, I have tried every combination that you can imagine on all of this stuff. You have to trust my experience. You may invent your own workouts but you’ll find the same issues I did. There are some…everyone thinks certain things work well together like the first time they tried planks with sleds. It sounded so good when you wrote up the workout and it’s just so awful when you try it. This series of things that I am about to tell you is called, ‘The Four Steps.’

One of the greatest workouts I know is called the Eagle. The Eagle. And that’s named after the mascot for Juan Diego where I used to teach. Would you be so kind? We are going to volunteer here. Now we’re not going to do the whole workout. Would you just hold those? Now, we’re pretending that these are both equal so the workout is very simple. It combines the Farmer Walk with the double kettlebell front squat. So he marches…okay, walk and just make one little loop here where I am…okay…and turn…we are pretending that he just stopped… that he just walked 50 meters…now clean it into a double kettlebell front squat…I hope those pants hold…he’s going to do 8 double kettlebell front squats…now he’s going to drop the weight…that was 8…into a Farmer Walk…and now he’s going to walk 50 meters…now he’s going to do double kettlebell front squats…a set of 8… So someone has to ask because you are all from the body building background, ‘What muscle does this work?’ Keep going. I want 8.

Trust me. The saddest thing in the world is that his grip rests when he is front squatting and his legs rest when he is walking. And that’s perfect. That was 8 sets of 8. Good. Weights down. Good. That is the goal. The goal is 24 kilos in each hand—so 53, 53—8 sets of 8 front squats. Once you do that, I suggest that you are in good shape.

Now, so that is our first step. Do you see why I call it a step? You see how it is here and goes to here? The second great workout…and this is one I’ve really kind of fallen in love with when I’m on road trips…this is my road warrior workout #1. A volunteer from you guys? Thank you very much. So what she’s going to do is…she only has one kettlebell so she’s going to do Goblet Squats…do one Goblet Squat…and now one Bulgarian Goat Bag Swing…now 2 Goblet Squats…2 Goat Bag Swings…and this is something I would strongly recommend to your basketball players…three…we want to go up to 20 and 20 for her…and down…good…good…perfect. No, you’re finished. If you have 2 kettlebells, there’s a nice little workout for you – if you have 1 kettlebell.

Now these are very interesting. This doesn’t look right but one of the things I’ve been working with a lot of people lately is combining the hinge…the hinge movement…with correct rows. When I was young, this was the standard way to row—to really push the hinge all the way back…really get back there…and then do your rowing motion. Because of some of the machines that are brought into weight training, we have lost that. I’m sure that Chris probably…I’m sure that you guys (indicating Chris Frankel from TRX) can probably come up with similar ideas too…trying to get in that hinge and pull. Very simple, simple little thing I just showed you but a remarkably good way to correctly work your hinge under load and get your rows in.

Finally, and of course, anybody who has ever, ever done a workout in any weight room would recognize combining bench press with bat wings. We would call that the superset. Right? That is your standard superset. Wouldn’t you say? I mean, if I said that you are going to do bench press and row, no one in this place would throw their pens up and scream out of here, ‘I’ve never heard this before.’ You know? But what’s great about this combination and this is a very good combination for someone who is just trying to…you know, the guy who shows up like this…if we go to a…we’re appealing to their strength which is something we will get back to…while building up their weakness.

So I call these workouts, ‘The Four Steps’…they’re not workouts…I call these combinations, ‘The Four Steps’ and you can see how simple it is to combine these two. Again if all you had…if all you had time to do was an Eagle, that little combination you did…the hinged row and that…that is a pretty solid workout. It is at sort of the lower end of athletic stuff but it is still pretty good stuff.

Click here to see some of the preview clips from Intervention.

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