Here’s a Quote from Dave Tate in this TNation Interview:

I have two speeds: blast and dust.

It’s just a personality trait. I’ve talked with a lot of entrepreneurs, top CEOs, business people, and athletes that operate in the same mode. You’re 100 percent on for weeks or months, just knocking everything out until nothing is left standing. And then, boom, you’re on the couch for three weeks. Training and business have been that way for me. F*%! moderation. I don’t have time for it.

If I have some Oreos, I’m going to eat the entire bag. I’m not going to have two or three. If I’m going to launch a business, I’m going to do it all the way. If I’m going to train my ass off, then I’m going to do it hardcore. I would rather have no cheat meal for 12 weeks and then eat like a f*%!ing hog for a month, than just have a cookie here and there. I’m going to run on all cylinders and then just disappear.

What I’ve managed to figure out is that I can stagger the roles in my life. So if training is going to be in 100 percent blast, then I know business is going to be in dust. If business is going to be in blast, training is going to fall back in dust. That’s just the way it is.

Let’s be honest; you can’t train balls to the wall 52 weeks per year. We’re all unique in this regard, but there will be phases throughout the year where you just aren’t that motivated to train ferociously. Personally, I’ve been training for 19 years, and I’ve never taken more than two weeks off of training. Lifting weights is an ingrained habit that is built into my lifestyle. I just don’t feel right if I’m not training hard.

That said, around once a year I just feel like coasting along. This mindset usually lasts for around a month and then I’m reinvigorated and revitalized. Maybe you have a nagging injury that’s preventing you from giving it your all. Maybe you’re stressed out and your mind is elsewhere. Maybe you have a big project that requires your attention or a loved-one coming into town who you’d like to spend extra time with.

Stall Sessions

If you find yourself in a similar situation, then I recommend that you refrain from just skipping the gym completely. All you need to do is train for 50 minutes per week and you can retain almost all of your strength and flexibility. Most people don’t realize how easy it is to hold onto strength once you’ve built it up. By performing two “stall workouts” per week, you can keep most of your strength and “stall” until you have the energy, dedication, and enthusiasm required to resume training with more volume, intensity, and/or frequency. These workouts do not need to be highly scientific or based on formulas or percentages of 1RM’s. Here’s an example of a “stall week”:

Let’s say that your max full squat is 315, your max bench press is 275, and your max deadlift is 405. Your stall workout might look something like this.

Day One (ex: Monday) – Lasts Twenty-Five Minutes

general warmup – 5 minutes

Do one minute each of walking lunges to knee hugs, spiderman crawls with rotation, bench t-spine extension, t-push ups, and glute marches

strength portion – 20 minutes

Do paired alternating supersets (do a set of one exercise, immediately followed by a set of another exercise, and then rest only as much as needed before doing another superset – usually between 15 and 90 seconds)

A1: squat 45 x 5, 135 x 5, 225 x 3, 275 x 1, 300 x 1

A2: bench press 45 x 5, 135 x 5, 225 x 3, 255 x 1, 265 x 1

B1: deadlift 135 x 5, 225 x 3, 315 x 1, 385 x 1

B2: chest supported row 45 x 5, 90 x 5, 135 x 3

Day Two (ex: Thursday) – Lasts Twenty-Five Minutes

general warmup – 5 minutes

Do one minute each of walking lunges to knee hugs, spiderman crawls with rotation, bench t-spine extension, t-push ups, and glute marches

strength portion – 20 minutes

Do paired alternating supersets (do a set of one exercise, immediately followed by a set of another exercise, and then rest only as much as needed before doing another superset – usually between 15 and 90 seconds)

A1: sumo deadlift 135 x 3, 225 x 3, 315 x 1, 385 x 1

A2: chin up bw x 5, 45 x 1, 55 x 1, 65 x 1

B1: front squat 45 x 5, 135 x 5, 185 x 3, 225 x 1

B2: incline press 45 x 5, 135 x 5, 205 x 3, 225 x 1

The first couple of supersets are easy so you don’t really have to rest in between sets. And since your top set is well below your max, you don’t need to rest too much for your top set or get extra “psyched-up” for the lift. For your max lift, it will be a bit easy so push or pull with maximum acceleration. This will ensure activation of the HTMU’s which will prevent your strength from diminishing.

Just Pick a Relatively Heavy Load that You Can Accelerate

For the different lifts, just pick some heavy loads that you know you can hit easily without too much effort, and try to create as much force as possible during the lift (force = mass x acceleration). The loads should be as heavy as possible without requiring any “grinding.”

Nothing Set in Stone

The workouts listed above are just suggestions. Feel free to pick some of your other favorite lifts, repeat the same workout twice during the week instead of having two different workouts, or vary the routine slightly each week. You might be able to get by with one workout every five days. Maybe you can do more of a HIT-based approach with slightly lower loads and higher reps. This method may be better for hypertrophy-retention. The point is to find a way to make it into the gym and retain what you’ve worked hard to build.

Conclusion

So there you have it – fifty minutes of exercise per week and you can keep most of your hard-earned strength and mobility. I reckon you could do this for several months before any noticeable drop-offs occurred, and some folks who might be bordering on overtraining or just performing a piss-poor program might even gain strength from this routine.

Take home message: Never Quit Training. Just Stall Until You’re Reenergized.

6 Comments

  • Clement says:

    I love this idea. I don’t do well on deloads, as well. It’s either I train 4 times per week or I take a complete fortnight off for holidays, military duty or whatever other commitments that draw me from the iron.

    However, I wouldn’t do supersets for my main workout as they’re just too draining for me and I do quite a lot of conditioning. I’d do something like the deload week for Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and light assistance work.

    We’re the same, you and I – we both don’t do well on breaks. Stalling ftw!

  • allie says:

    GREAT article- so glad to read this, great timing. 🙂

  • Alexandra says:

    Perfect timing, as I’m feeling like I need a “break” right now but don’t necessarily want to stop training all together! It’s good to know that just a couple of workouts a week are all that’s needed to retain strength.

  • Teresa Merrick says:

    Great article and similar to advice I gave Geoff Neupert regarding KB workouts. If life is making things too hectic (either physically or mentally) for “progress”, there’s a lot to be said for maintenance workouts like these. After activity, CONSISTANCY is the next most important attribute for a physical program. Staying in the game to avoid losing what gains you’ve made is a sound strategy. I wouldn’t call it “stalling”, perhaps “standing” (as in being at the wheel of a car with the motor running).

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