1. Tony is from central NY, and so is Jen. She grew up in Syracuse and went to SUNY – Cortland. So, anyone from the same neck of the woods is good, in her book.
2. Tony cracks me up with his hilarious blog post pre-explanation of the actual program. He talks about Mr. October, a puke bucket and Britney Spears. You definitely need to check it out.
3. The program looked sound, and seemed well within our ability and interests.
4. We were willing to try something titled “Strong and Ripped” cuz that’s exactly what we wanted to be!
What We Changed In the Program and WhyWe made some deviations from Tony’s layout, but we made sure to keep the Strength portion in tact. For the first two weeks, we did 4×6′s and for the second two weeks we did 5×5′s. Same with weeks 5-8. What we tinkered with was the MetCon piece. Both Jen and I have previous shoulder injuries and were careful about the shoulder work we did. We decided to omit band resisted push ups and scarecrow. We added in fun things like hip thrusters from a bench, push/pull with the Sled (that was BRUTAL), as well as using heavy ropes to PULL the sled while seated.
We also opted to change Tony’s 5-15 minute finishers. This was not because we didn’t like the look/sound of them, but again to accommodate our preferences and injury tendencies. We had just come off a Loooooooong triathlon season that included LOTS of running, so we decided to make “Finishers” of our own. They consisted of: Burpee (with possible push up) and reverse lunge on each leg. Multiply that by 20 and voila!
We also worked x1 per week with a trainer so we could get new ideas, get our form critiqued and get some additional feedback
What I Got From the “Strong and Ripped” ProgramIn short, I got exactly that: strong. and. ripped. I am absolutely amazed and excited about the changes my body has made over the 8 weeks of this program. I have noticeable definition and lean muscle mass, especially in my shoulders and arms. My legs didn’t “grow” that much but they are stronger, for sure.
I also was reminded that leaving EVERY single workout feeling like a Mack truck has run you over is NOT what leads to success. I remember in my early 20′s, working SO hard to get stronger and faster, but I went about it the wrong way. I would lift for an hour and then do 60 minutes of cardio EVERY day. The setup and execution of my programming was all wrong. Then I got “edumacated” and understood the principles of program design and progressive overload. These 8 weeks were a great reminder to me that strength WILL come, if you just follow the program.
Thirdly, I got a renewed faith in my body’s ability to rebound from injury. I was in a car accident this past spring that sidelined me from EVERYTHING. I went through a long course of physical therapy and had to re-learn how to use my shoulders, arm and back. I wasn’t able to train or compete in part of my triathlon season, and even when I was back, I was hesitant to go 100%. For the better part of 7 months, I barely lifted anything heavier than 20 lbs with my left arm. I was babying my shoulder and my back. Once I got through PT, and started working to build strength with my trainer, I decided to test things with this program. I was A-MAZED at my “new” upper body. My pull-ups were better, my deadlifts were more crisp, and my muscular definition was so different than it had been a year ago. I am SO grateful for my body’s ability to come back from that injury.
OK, Here’s the Bragging Rights SectionI am pretty impressed with and proud of the numbers I put up in this program. They are higher than they had been, and I am even more excited to grow from here. These were all done with a body weight of 130lbs.
Deadlift- 185lbs for 5 reps. My previous max had been 140lbs at about the same weight.
Squat- 100lbs for 5 reps. I had to do this one without a spot… I am hoping I can push that # even further with someone spotting me.
Bench Press- 100lbs for 5 reps. I had always been afraid to bench with full range of motion due to my shoulder, but here I am… putting up triple digits.
Reverse Lunge w/Barbell- 105lbs for 5 reps. I ended up wearing a weighted vest to add some extra weight here.
Pull Ups- Full chest to bar with neutral grip for 25 reps. I didn’t add any weight to these, and don’t plan on it either. I would rather be able to do MORE consistent body weight pull ups.
Row- 44lb Kettlebell x5 reps (single arm)
In ConclusionI am VERY satisfied and VERY excited about my new gains. I took a week off after the 8 weeks of this program, and have just started a program that I wrote for myself (with Jen’s help and input) that is specific to snowboarding. One of the ways the “Strong and Ripped” program helped me is that now my baseline deadlift for 10 reps x5 sets is 135lbs. AWESOMESAUCE.