Max Muscle – Max Strength – Minimal Time

The Too Fit 1 x 20 Program

Thanks to the overwhelming response from our Too Fit Toolbox members we have decided to make a full blog post about our new workout routine. Not a Toolbox Member? Why are you waiting?! Everybody’s doing it! The Toolbox is delivered to you every Friday and includes the latest workouts, recipes, gadgets, and answered questions from yours truly. Best of all it’s FREE! Get it here! Okay, shameless plug over. Now onto the workout!

This routine was inspired by one of our recent podcast guests, Dean Pohlman, of Man Flow Yoga. You can check out the full episode where Dean shares how to improve your endurance, strength, body control, flexibility, and get completely “Yoga-Ripped“. During our conversation, Dean mentioned he was playing around with a once per week 1 x 20 weightlifting program. This 1 x 20 program really peaked our interest. Jake and I have been involved in Crossfit for a long time but have always enjoyed experimenting with workouts, rep schemes, and techniques. We also recently began training for Ironman triathlons and getting more involved in obstacle course races such Conquer the Gauntlet, Battlefrog, and Spartan. After chatting with Dean, we knew we would soon be experimenting with our own 1 x 20 routine.

The 1 x 20 routine is the definition of the minimum effective dose (MED). The MED is the smallest dose that will produce the desired outcome and anything beyond the MED is wasteful. In this case, the result you want is building muscle and strength while keeping Tri training as the primary focus. Doing Crossfit wods five days per week is not ideal when training for triathlons and trail runs. Doing so is a quick recipe for overtraining. Since we are swimming, biking, and running six days per week (training each discipline typically two days each), we want to make sure we are not only maintaining muscle but also building and continuing to get stronger.

This program relies on time under tension. The best way to acheive more pull-ups is to do negatives and if possilbe, weighted negatives. That is the principle of this routine. Focus on controlling the weight and stablizing throughout the movement. You should feel like you are doing isometric exercises such as wall sqauts. There will be a deep burn. Smile and embrace it.

If you are asking “how could 1 x 20 be enough”? Trust us, give it a try for a month. It pretty much takes you to failure on every set and recruits a ton of muscle fibers that can adapt, get stronger, and grow. Performed correctly, it will take you to the pain cave.

We spent the past few weeks tweaking the movements and the tempo of the movements. We have also experimented adding in some in-between movement options and options to make the workout even more intense. We have finally dialed it in and we are excited to share it with you!

As always, if you have any questions, please write them in the comments sections, and we’ll be happy to respond.

How it works: Perform this program for 6 weeks

  • Do 1 set of each exercise for 20 reps.
  • Do 1 second on the up (concentric) and 5 seconds on the down (eccentric)
  • Sets should take 2-3 minutes each
  • Rep 20 should be nearly impossible
  • Log how many breaks you had to take if any (if you have to take a break to shake it out, that’s fine…just minimal rest and get back into the reps)
  • The following week either add 5 pounds to the movement or do more consecutive reps without breaking
  • Alternate workout A and B each week for a total of 2 workouts per week
  • Example: Monday – Workout A / Thursday – Workout B – THAT’S IT!

Workout A

  • Front Squat – Barbell or DB
  • Pushup
  • Single Leg RDL – Dumbell (hold DB in same arm as grounded leg)
  • Dumbell Row on Bench – set to incline
  • Split Sqaut (20 ea. side) – option: back foot on bench
  • Dumbell Arnold Press
  • Negative Pullups – jump to top position and the control the eccentric (down) movement
  • Triceps Pushdown – with band or rope on cable machine
  • Barbell Curl
  • Dumbell Calf Raise
  • Dumbell Forearm Curl

Workout B

  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Parallel Dip
  • Deadlift
  • Inverted Row
  • Lateral Lunge (side to side on this one)
  • Dumbell Lateral Raise
  • Single Leg Glute Bridge
  • Banded or Cable Machine Lat Pulldown
  • Banded or Cable Machine Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Dumbell Inclince Curl
  • Dumbell Farmers Carry

Options – feel free to use one option for the whole workout, use multiple, rotate, etc…options are limitless.

  • 30 second plank or side plank after each movement
  • 20 ab bicycles after each movement
  • 10 toes to Bar
  • 20 flutter kicks
  • 30 second hollow body hold
  • Dead hang from pull-up bar for 20-30 seconds

Plyometric Options – Add some explosiveness after corresponding moves to get in some plyometric work and up the intensity.

  • For lower body movements do 10 of one of the following:
    • Lateral jump
    • Ice skater jumps
    • Box jumps
    • Lunge jumps
  • For upper body movements do 10 of the following:
    • After back movements – med ball slams
    • After upper body movements – plyo push ups, med ball chest throws (against a wall), vertical med ball toss, reverse med ball throws (behind the head against a wall)

We hope you enjoy this routine. Again, if you have any questions send em our way! Now, go get after it!

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