CAN YOU MASTER THE STRENGTH SESSIONS?

What are you training for? A big part of our philosophy is to concentrate on mastering really tough strength-moves, getting fundamentally stronger and letting the asthetic results take care of themselves. Commit to mastering as many steps on these ladders as possible and you'll have a longterm vision to keep you focused, you'll have something to train for, and you'll make way better progress physique-wise as a result.

MASTER THE STRENGTH SESSIONS; TRANSFORM YOUR BODY

The 'Master The Strength Sessions Challenge' is all about encouraging you to train consistently, for something, with the right mindset. It's about more than just 'exercising', it should become your hobby, your sport.

(OK -- one of your hobbies, you can have other hobbies too).

As far as I -- and anybody else that understands how the body works -- is concerned, fat loss is primarily about about food and resistance training. So rather than traning for loss; rather than striving to burn calories; to drain yourself; when we train, we want to gain: strength, athleticism, skill, prowess, confidence, achievements...and that's what this challenge is all about.

Your physique results will be greater as a result of this focus. Look at some of the harder levels of these progression ladders, imagine how your body would have to change so that you can do them. You'll have to lose all your excess fat and your muscles will have some serious adaptation to do. The sexy, ripped, lean body you want will come as a natural consequence of that.

There are 14 progression ladders for you to strive to master. They are designed to take years; not weeks. They should be an over-arching long-term driver of training ambitioin; not a quick faddy-challenge. Choose the progression ladders that suit your body, your goals and your biomechanical quirks, and dedicate to getting better and better and better at them over the coming years, then enjoy watching your body transform as you do so.

Let's now take a quick look at the different progression ladders and then I've packed in more notes and resources below:

THE PUSH-UP PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: PUSH UP PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: PASSION, COIMMITMENT, FLOOR

BUILDS: CHEST, TRICEP, ANTERIOR SHOULDER STRENGTH

GOES FROM: EASY AIR PUSH-UPS FOR TECHNIQUE

THE DREAM: THE ONE-ARM PUSH UP

To Master it: you’ve got to control your core to keep your spine still right throughout the move–easier said than done, even for the already strong. You’re also going to have to learn to keep your shoulders in a good position and differentiate ‘chest out’ from ‘chin out’. Then you’re going to have to build way more strength and endurance through your chest, shoulders, triceps and abdomials.

Extra Waffle: I train a ton of people each week and we regularly test and work through this ladder. While there’s plenty of guys (but very few girls) who can do Single-Arm Push-Ups (albeit few can neatly), 95%-plus can’t, and it seems a cool, iconic move to work towards. So, that’s what we strive for, but there are plenty of tough tests along the way. Most girls I train set their hopes and dreams on mastering 5 perfect chest-to-floor Push-Ups. While there's plenty capable of greater, this often sets the perfect balance between the necessity to get fundamentally leaner and stronger, without going to far and bulking the shoulders.

THE RHYTHMIC BODY-ROW PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: RHYTHMIC BODY-ROW PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: SOME KINDA BAR TO PULL ON 

BUILDS: FOREARMS, BICEPS, REAR DELTS, RHOMBOIDS, LOWER TRAPS

GOES FROM: BRIDGED STATIC HOLDS

THE DREAM: SINGLE-ARM ROWS, POSSIBLY WITH FEET UP!

To Master it: this one’s all about the upper back, the biceps and the forearm flexor-things (your grip). On these, you’re always going to work your grip and arms–that’s for sure. But, getting your upper back and your shoulder blade positions right, that’s what makes it tough, that’s what makes it impressive and that’s what makes it really look like you know what you’re doing. Work on that with style and rigour and you’ll climb high on this one.

Extra Waffle: Most gentlemen of average strength should be looking to master the overhand, feet elevated Body-Rows in The Strength Endurance range. Do that and a muscular back and impressively rounded rear delts arean inevitability. Girls should target perfect under-hand bridged Body-Rows as a minimum to sculpt toned, shapely arms and enocurage beutiful upright posture.

THE PLATFORM PISTOL PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE PLATFORM PISTOL PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: DECENT MATS / CHAIR OF THE RIGHT HEIGHT

BUILDS: THE GLUTES AND THE ENTIRE THIGH

GOES FROM: A HIGH PLATFORM, TO NO PLATFORM

THE 'DREAM': FULL PISTOL SQUATS

To Master it: You’ll need amazing, strong, flexible legs, healthy kness and a kick-ass ass.

Extra Waffle: it’s pretty simple this one: Sit down. Get up. Repeat. Can do a full set? Great. Get a lower mat/chair/bench or whatever your using for a platform. I’m a big fan of these babies because they’re easy to learn, relatively safe, and fantabulous at putting a real strength load through your leg things without needing a heavy weight or stressing your back. Oh, and they’re profoundly good at training you to be more-athletic and more glute dominant (you want this). I'm not being sexist here. Everybody should target the full Pistol Squat, even if it takes years to develop to athleticism required.

THE CHIN-UP PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: CHIN UP PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: CHIN-UP BAR. GOOD TASTE IN EXERCISE SELECTION.

BUILDS: BICEPS, FOREARMS, LATS, ABS.

GOES FROM: DEAD-HANGING or STATIC POSITION HOLDING

THE DREAM: LOADS AND LOADS OF CHIN-UPS, OR ONE-ARMERS IF YOU'RE BETTER THAN ME

To Master it: well, you need to learn to like these. A lot of folk avoid hard things, fear looking silly on the Chin-Up bar, can’t do a real Chin-Up and therefore avoid training for these altogether…and that’s a real shame.

I always avoid questions about what’s the best exercise for this or that etc. but, seeing as you didn’t ask, I’ll let you in on a little secret: these are the best exercise. Ever. For everything.

So, to master this ladder, we need dedication, diligent practice and, of course, some patience. But most of all, we need to accept where we are now, and dominate that progression with pride; get greedy and keep striving for the next level before you’re ready and that’s where we get stuck and fed up.

Extra Waffle: O boy do I love a Chin Up or three. There’s serious boy/girl divide on this one. if you’re a girl (it’s easy to tell) and you can hold a good top position for 10 seconds, you’re doing OK. If you can pull one clean chin, you’re in the top few percent. If you’re a gentlemen, anything above 15 and your going to have quite the physique. Boys who get to the upper echelons and assured strong wide Lats and bulging biceps.

THE TUCK PLANCHE PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE TUCK PLANCHE PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: JUST A DECENT UNDERSTANDING OF WHERE THE STRENGTH COMES FROM

BUILDS: CHEST, TRICEP, ANTERIOR SHOULDER STRENGTH, TENDONS AND STRAIGHT-ARM GYMNASTIC STRENGTH

GOES FROM: A REALLY EASY POSITION

THE DREAM: A SOLID TUCK PLANCHE HOVER, OR EVEN A STRADDLE PLANCHE WITH BOTH FEET OFF THE FLOOR

To Master it: You’ll need exceedingly good arm, shoulder and abdominal strength, and you might want to be as light as possible. I certainly wouldn’t recommend carrying much body fat.

Extra Waffle: You want these, you know you do. They look cool and are one of these skills that most people can’t do, so it’s fun to be able to pull them out on a special occasion. The Tuck Planche is another achievable exercise, like the floor L-Sit, like the Skater Squat from the floor, and like the full Pistol Squat, that you either can do, or you can’t. There are plenty of progressions along the way to work on, but once you can do the real thing, that’s a landark. Once you’re there, you’ll never want to lose it.

THE BENT-ARM PLANCHE PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE BENT-ARM PLANCHE PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: NONE.

BUILDS: CHEST, TRICEP, ANTERIOR SHOULDER STRENGTH

GOES FROM: LOADING THE POSITION WITH FEET AND KNEES DOWN

THE DREAM: FULL BENT-ARM PLANCHE (FROM A FULL HANDSTAND)

To Master It: It's mainly about brute strength in the uper body, the chest, triceps and shoulders have to be seriously strong, but then we need the extension strength in the low-back and glutes to lift the legs.

Extra Waffle: Most guys following my programme will take years to master this, most ladies may never do so. But don't overlook the usefullness of the exercise. It will take your push-ups to new levels and develop serious tone. Pick a level just out of reach and strive to master it. You'll be glad you did.

THE SKATER SQUAT PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE SKATER SQUAT

REQUIREMENTS: DETERMINATION TO SQUAT CONSISTENTLY

BUILDS: THE ENTIRE LEG

GOES FROM: A HIGH PLATFORM

THE DREAM: WEIGHTED, FROM A PLATFORM

To Master it: you need a bit of technique, a bit of determination and to learn to love training legs. Even if you’re pretending a bit.

Extra Waffle: easy to learn; relatively safe to work hard with with real strength requirement (without having a heavy weight on your back); easy to do anywhere without equipment..thereachareps SO many good reasons to love and use Single-Leg Squats. That’s why we have 3 progression ladders based on them. I must urge you to embrace, endure and enjoy them. You’ll get serious benefits and have very few excuses not to get them done consistently. Do so and strong, springy, shaped, lean, sexy, athletic legs will be yours.

THE ROLLING PISTOL PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE ROLLING PISTOL PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: DECENT MAT OR BEING HARDCORE

BUILDS: THE ENTIRE LEG AND BUTTOCK REGION

GOES FROM: EASY ROLLING TWO-LEGGED SQUATS

THE DREAM: MULTIPLE, BEUTIFUL, ELEGANT PISTOL SQUATS

To Master it: you need healthy knees. if you haven’t, get help, or neglect this ladder in favour of the others. Then, to get all the way to doing real Pistols, you need a combination of great strength and flexibility in your legs and hips.

Extra Waffle: Become the person who can do 10 Pistol Squats. Become that person. If you do, your legs will look like they can do 10 Pistol Squats. Legs that can do 10 Pistol Squats look good.

THE LITTLE HANDSTAND PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE LITTLE HANDSTAND PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: A WALL, AND MAYBE A SPOTTER

BUILDS: CHEST, TRICEP, SHOULDERS, ABS, UPPER TRAPS, WRIST STRENGTH

GOES FROM: JUST EMULATING A HANDSTAND WITH YOUR FEET UP

THE DREAM: A ONE-ARM HANDSTAND (ON THE WALL!)

To Master it: You’ll need strong wrists. You’ll need strong triceps. You’ll need strong Delts and Lats and you’ll need a lot of body control and awareness.

Extra Waffle: I’m a bit of a handstand fanatic these days, but this ain’t really about the balance; it’s about the strength. So if you get into handstandin’ and practice away from the wall, then great, but this programme is about strength, so don’t let the balance aspect put you off our main business at hand. This is much easier to master skill-wise. You still must be very careful learning the skills on this ladder, but, you know, you can do it.

THE HANGING LADDER

NAME: THE HANGING STRENGTH PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: HIGH BAR

BUILDS: FOREARMS, LATS, FINGERS, ABS

GOES FROM: AN EASY HANG WITH FEET DOWN

THE DREAM: FULL, TOWEL-GRIP, SINGLE-ARM L-SIT HANG

To Master it: erm, something about grip strength, something about healthy shoulders, and something about hell-a-good ab strength.

Extra Waffle: Hanging normally gets neglected in training, except maybe with climbers and folks who train hanging a lot. However, it’s very valuble for a few reasons: 1) it’s generally very splendid for shoulder health and encouraging thoracic extension 2) grip strength (amongst other things ) 3) for folks who can’t or don’t like chin-ups can get on the ladder (for want of a more original phrase). That’s why the Chin-Up ladder starts with a Dead Hang just the same as this ladder. This ladder though, rather than turn into a Chin Up, turns into more extreme Hanging things. If you struggle with Chin-Ups, training Hangs with enthusiasm, vigour (and possibly some climbing chalk) could be your door into this wonderful world.

THE KETTLEBELL SWING PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE KETTLEBELL SWING PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: A KETTLEBELL OR 3. GOOD TECHNIQUE!

BUILDS: THE EXTENSOR CHAIN. PLUS THE QUADS. PLUS THE ABS.

GOES FROM: EASY, LIGHT SWINGS.

THE DREAM: IMPRESSIVE, VICIOUS, HEAVY SWINGS.

To Master it: you have to get the technique right or you’ll be looking for skilled surgeon. Then it’s just a case of time and scale.

Extra Waffle: I know what your thinking, and you’re right…this one isn’t a body-weight exercises at all. You need an implement. A kettlebell shaped implement. On this one exercise, I’ve deemed it neccessary to have a break from our predominantly bodyweight laddery excercises things. As ever, there are a few reasons: 1) something special happens when you swing kettlebell 2) I’m not dogmatic and overly attached to one method or style 3) dominate these and single leg squats and you’re going to have an amazing heiny 4) I want you to buy one or two and have some skin in the game…so to speak.

THE BENT-ARM HANDSTAND PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE BENT-ARM HANDSTAND PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: PATIENCE AND DETERMINATION

BUILDS: SERIOUS SHOULDER STRENGTH. TRICEPS. 

GOES FROM: PRETENDING TO FROG STAND

THE DREAM: FULL-RANGE BENT-ARM HANDSTAND

To Master it: You'll need a lovely strong balance of balance and strength. Your wrists, triceps and shoulders have to get used to takeing your entire body weight on top of them. Then you need to control your bdy position as you work through the progressions.

Extra waffle: It might feel like it's impossible at first, but with a lot of dedication, you'll eventually be able to take all your weight and progress. Lose any 'spare bodyweight' your carrying as well, that can only help.

THE HOLLOW BODY HOLD PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE HOLLOW BODY PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: FLOOR. ABS. MAYBE A MAT.

BUILDS: ABDOMINAL STRENGTH AND PPT CONTROL

GOES FROM: EASY TUCKED AB CONTRACTIONS

THE DREAM: FULL HOLLOW BODY ROCKS

To Master it: you’ll need strong and coordinated abs. The Hollow Body Hold is a foundational gymnastics position, it requires the ability to keep your pelvis firmly in a posterior tIlt (you need this ability for lots of things), your ribs pressed down and your abs engaged. If you have the coordination to do that–whilst fatigued and whilst under serious load, then you’re going to have a truly fantastic mid-section. Keep a narrow focus and master this ladder and you will have great abs.

THE L-SIT PROGRESSION LADDER

NAME: THE L-SIT PROGRESSION LADDER

REQUIREMENTS: BARS, CHAIR OR ENOUGH STRENGTH TO DO IT ON THE FLOOR

BUILDS: TRICEPS, ABS, SCAPULA DEPRESSORS

GOES FROM: JUST HOLDING THE RIGHT ARM POSITION

THE DREAM: FULL, HIGH L-SIT ON THE FLOOR

To Master it: You’ll need strong toned triceps, you’ll need amazing abs, and you’ll need super-athletic hips.

Extra Waffle: the first time I tried am L-Sit, cramp happened. Quad cramp. I don’t think I even got my legs half-straight (during the exercise and probably for 4 days after). I don’t think I tried another L-Sit for at least a year after. Now, that was then…when I was a young gun and before I knew the ways of the world. Now I have significantly greater wisdom and significantly greater proximal hip-flexion strength…Now I love an L-Sit: my abs are stronger, my triceps are more acclimitised and more defined, my hamstrings are looser and my quads are better at life. If you train to master the L-Sit, you’ll get all those changes too.

LOADS MORE ON THE MASTER THE STRENGTH SESSIONS CHALLENGE!

–> THERE ARE 14 PROGRESSION LADDERS FOR YOU TO CLIMB, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO MASTER THEM ALL
From three types of single-leg squats, to classic moves like chin-ups, push-ups and dead hangs, to gymnastic strength moves like the Tuck Planche, the Hollow Body Hold and the L-Sit…master this lot and your whole body will reshape, you’ll be forced to get lean as hell and your abs will be strong, sculpted and the stuff of envy.

–> WE TEST MONTHLY TO TRACK PROGRESS
Test yourself on these ladders monthly, make that your sport–a ritual to train for–and you will reap great benefits. This is profoundly motivating because there is always the next test day around the corner and there as there are lots of components you’ll usually find that you’ll be better at at least one or two things every month.

–> WE FOLLOW THE STRENGTH SESSIONS ONLINE PROGRAMME
Although it forces you to train just a few moves each month, and requires just 20 minutes per day, it is carefully planned to make you better at every move on this challenge. The difiiculty isn’t getting the workouts done, the difficulty–but also the payoff– comes in having the tenacity and courage to stick to the programme and get it done well, consistently.

–> WE PLOT, PLAN, RE-STRATEGISE AND RE-MOTIVATE MONTHLY
This is how the entire system is designed: each month you’ll test and mark your progress, then you get the novelty of a programme change and us prompting you to take the time to re-strategise and re-motivate. This is what makes the programme stick, and sticking to it is what causes fundamental physique change.

–> MASTER THE STRENGTH SESSIONS…GET A BETTER LOOKING BODY.
Because to Master The Strength Sessions, you’ll need to get really strong and you’ll need to get really lean. As all the progression ladders demand you get fundamentally better at serious bodyweight strength skills, you can’t afford to be carrying any extra timber. So, it’s simple: Master The Strength Sessions…and you’ll have to lose fat, get toned and look amazing.

–> YEARS. NOT WEEKS.
This isn’t meant as a six-week novelty challenge. The people we work with aren’t going to ,aster this overnight. But then: muscle doesn’t grow overnight. Fat doesn’t permanently disappear overnight. Outstanding physiques are earned through smart, consistent training. Each month you’ll test your performance, each month you’ll edge further up the ladders. We want something to keep you striving for the longterm. Like an athlete. Piece-by-piece you’ll build–and maintain–an outstanding physique.

–> HOW TO MASTER THE STRENGTH SESSIONS
I hate to break it to you, but first you’re going to have to eat right, then you’re going to have to train a lot. First, you learn the moves (or you won’t know what to do), then we test to find out where you are now, then you follow The Strength Sessions Online Programme–either with us in the gym, or on your own (or with a frIend if you have any) at home or in the gym, then you repeat the cycle monthly: train, test, re-plan. Train, test, re-plan.

–> DON’T WORK OUT. TRAIN.
This is a mindset thing, a strategy thing and a physiological principally thing: do random stuff, keep switching what you’re doing, strive just to ‘feel worked out’ and you’ll get nowhere; Train with consistency and purpose, make movement a practise, strive to Master The Strength Sessions and you’ll get significantly better results.

–> SOME REALISTIC TARGETS
The upper echelons of these ladders are HARD. Elite athlete’s might stroll it, but for you and I, for bigger boys and smaller girls, we might never master it all. ‘Master The Strength Sessions’ may mean different things to different folk. Here are a few realistic levels to strive for.

–> RANDOM RATIONALE
Why are there so many bits to master? Why strength and not cardio? Why all the gymnastics moves? Why nearly all body-weight? Answers to all this and more, will be here. You know this isn’t a perfect programme, right? I’m happy to tell you that and I’m gonna to tell you why.

–> HOW IT WORKS
You got the basics, but let’s talk details. Each ladder has three different strength levels to hit, and you have to do it perfectly and on camera to get to the next level. Soon I’ll put more silly but neccessary details and rules like that here.

–> THE WORLD NEEDS MORE OF THIS
Theres plenty of cardio challenges knocking about. But what about those who want to re-shape, to be an effective minimalist, to train smart but still be part of something? Where are the strength challenges for those who want to re-shape? Ask any bodybuilder or physique athlete: that’s not primarily about cardio, that’s about food and resistance training.

–> THE MASTER THE STRENGTH SESSIONS WALL CHART (doesn’t exist).
Tick off each time you hit a new level and keep focused on the higher levels you’re aiming at with this handy chart. (When we’ve finally made it).

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