T3: Minimal Gear/Maximum Effect

by Tom Furman

Staying strong and mobile increases lifespan.

IF you get paid to train, your method can be extensive and detailed. If you train for life, fitness and longevity, you need to be flexible. “Back-Off” days or weeks may create themselves as life has a way of keeping us humble.

Flexibility may mean fewer moving parts. Sometimes it’s just one activity and enough maintenance so as to not get injured from compensations.

However simple doesn’t mean ineffective. If the parts are too few, they can eventually fail. Too complex and it’s hard to track where it went wrong. There is a sweet spot for hobbyists and those who want an active lifestyle.

Enter T3. T3, stands for, “The Three”. Three movements with variations to build a foundation of fitness. Three seems a minimum in effective strength training. The power lifts are bench-deadlift-squat. The Olympic lifts used to be jerk-snatch-press. The GS or kettlebell lifts are jerk-snatch-long cycle. There are more possible movements, but if you choose carefully, there is ample bang per buck.

“I think a plan is just a list of things that don’t happen.” — Parker, Way of the Gun

As I pointed out in my article, “The Lost Basic”, squatting on your toes is an art that has faded from the fitness scene. That ends now. Click the link and fully educate yourself on the history and implementation of this valuable exercise. You will be using the Kettlebell Hack Squat.

Why did I choose the Kettlebell Hack Squat?

  1. It requires just a kettlebell or even a dumbbell or barbell plate.
  2. A greater range of motion around the knees. (not for everyone of course)
  3. It forces good posture.
  4. The hips and even feet undergo stimulus.
  5. More activation of the adductors.

The second exercise, is either the Tactical Pull Up or the Modified, Gironda Chin Up. This will depend on elbow health. Not everyone is suited to the pronated or supinated grip, so we adapt. We don’t quit.

The, “secret sauce”, for both of these drills is do use some irradiation to enhance the exercise. In the Tactical Pullup, you should hold a striking pad, yoga block or even a pair of sneakers between your thighs to squeeze as you hold the hollow body position.

Photo from Oaklandsmostpowerful

With the Gironda Chin Up, we will use a stability ball, held between the heels and butt. This may take some adjustments or preferably a training partner. The adjustment I recommend is to use the supinated or neutral grip if a pronated grip irritates your elbows.

You may not be able to pull to the waist like the image, but pull to the upper chest with the torso in a swan dive posture, complete with holding the stability ball behind you, primarily with your posterior chain.

A regular sight at Vince’s Gym in Studio City, California.

“Flipping tires that weigh less than my left nut doesn’t make you any more functional.” — Ross Enamait

How many presses does Ken Blackburn do? All of them.

The third and last exercise is the, “Long Cycle Clean and Push Press”. The reason for this choice is for several reasons.

  1. This is a strength-endurance movement and not a high tension one.
  2. The push press is less technically demanding than the GS style jerk.
  3. By using one arm at a time, your system remains under duress, but the smaller muscles get to rest.
  4. This exercise is about efficiency. Using just enough effort to make it work and relying on form and not brute force.
  5. The whole body is stimulated in this lift.
  6. It involves a hinge and upper body push. This balances the squat and upper body pull of the hack and pull up.

Putting this together requires a few rules to make it work best.

  1. Alternate the Hack and Pull Up using low rep, (3–5) sets. Any amount of rest can be used, but 60 seconds should be enough. Remember you are alternating upper and lower body movements. This is a workout by itself. Start with 5 sets of each. Add one set each workout until you reach 10 sets. This is the point at which you add a bit of weight. A tiny bit. Then start over at 5 sets. The warm down is the wide stance, up dog, down dog. This will unwind more meat than the standard yoga move. Hold each position from 60–90 seconds and go through the cycle 3–5 times.
  2. The Kettlebell Long Cycle Clean and Push Press should be kept to it’s own session. It’s fine to follow with aerobic work of moderate duration. (20–30 mins]. This exercise should be continuous with a hand change at one minute. You can rest in the rack position, even though this will be uncomfortable. Deal with it. Start with 5 reps left, then 5 reps right. The duration will always be an even number. The progression goes as follows. Duration, then frequency, then weight. You may start at 4 minutes and eventually build up to 12–20 mins. DO NOT start too heavy. For a short lesson in the push press enjoy this video.

The warm down for this workout is a yoga position, the twisting lunge. Hold the position for 3 cycles of 30 seconds per side. Gradually increase 5 seconds per workout until the holds are 90 seconds.

There are two ways to set up your weekly workouts.

A. Day 1: Hack/Pull Up, Day 2: LCCPP, Day 3: Aerobic + Yoga, Day 4: Rest

B. Day 1: Hack/Pull Up, Day 2: Aerobics + Yoga, Day 3: LCCPP, Day 4: Aerobics + Yoga.

Rest days can be planned or life can plan them for you. The same with back off weeks. You can drop to 50% of volume on every fourth week or life can give you back off weeks.

As per warm ups, rehearse the lifts with a lighter weight. Don’t complicate it.

This program is made as simple as possible without being incomplete. The elements of aerobics and yoga give you a mental break and round out your fitness. Your nutrition should be spot on since you can’t outrun a donut. Sleep should be 7 to 9 hours. If this is not possible, focus on sleep hygiene, since this is the most powerful recovery tool in your arsenal.

For any questions or private online fitness consultation, please contact me at physicalstrategies@gmail.com

“Stay strong, stay fit.” — Lenny McLean, The Guv’nor. (over 4000 fights, “on the cobbles”)

Tom Furman has been involved in martial arts and fitness most of his life. He’s currently a fitness coach and been blogging since 2005. www.tomfurman.com