09 February 2009

**Uncle! Training Style

For years, bodybuilders and strength athletes have wondered what, if any, set/rep/rest scheme was ideal for the purposes of maximal strength and/or hypertrophy. Coaches and laypersons alike seem to believe that the 5x5 system is ideal, apparently due to its endorsement by the likes of eat lead and shit bullets-style brutal hardasses like Ed Coan, Captain Kirk Karwoski, and Bill Kazmeyer, all of whom used that system religiously.

That system might have worked fine for them. It might work fine for you. I do know this, however- Kaz benched 350 THE FIRST FUCKING TIME HE EVER LAID DOWN ON A BENCH AND ATTEMPTED THE LIFT. We could have spent all of his time doing pushups and eating Pez and would have rocked a 400 lb bench.

I personally never got a goddamned thing out of 5x5 training, and would be happy to explain at great length to Mr. Mark Rippetoe how shitty I think his 5x5 system is. Instead, I do a shitload of ultra-heavy singles, doubles, and triples, and I manage to gain size, strength, and cuts, simultaneously.

“How the fuck did you do that?” “That’s impossible!” Well, no, actually, and go fuck yourself for thinking that. My training style incorporates a ton of different methods, but I’ll address the Uncle style first and foremost.

The Uncle! System

This arose out of nothing more than competition, and a tidbit I recalled from Arnold’s Encyclopedia of bodybuilding. He used to do something called handoffs, where he and Sergio would load up a barbell with some weight and take turns doing singles with it, handing it off at the completion of each rep. I did this in high school, and while it appeared to do nothing whatsoever for my biceps, it was fun as hell. Thus, when trying to decide what to do in the gym one day, I challenged my lifting partner to a game of Uncle, in which we’d keep doing singles of power clean and press until one of us quit. Knowing I could edge him on that, he countered with fat bar c&p’s with 200 lbs, knowing my little hands would kill me on that. Having resolved that we would then tie, we chose a stone load with a 200 lb stone as the tie breaker. The competition went pretty much as we envisioned it- I won the regular c&p, and he smoked my ass in the fat bar. By the time we got to the stone, we were dropping it on ourselves and collapsing on the ground after each attempt. After we both failed, we declared it a tie, having looked at the clock and realized that we DID NONSTOP SINGLES ON C&P FOR TWO HOURS with about 85% of our one rep max in the two barbell exercises. I shit you not, gentle readers. Our Uncle workouts, which we did as GPP, hahahaha, became a staple that made us legendary nutcases in Iron Sport Gym, and is the exact thing that spawned the moniker Chaos & Pain for our workouts- they were totally unplanned, and they always ended in horrifying amounts of pain.

As Matt demonstrates, Uncle can be done with snatches, too, or with any full body, balls out exercise.

When I departed the fair city of Philly, I found that I had to modify my training accordingly, and did not want to abandon Uncle simply because my lifting partner, in all of his selfishness, failed to follow me hither and thither around the country. Thus, I began conducting one man Uncles against the clock- I would pick a weight between 85% and 95% of my 1RM and lift it as many times as I could in a set period of time, which usually ended up being 30 minutes. This is a fucking man-maker.

Why, you might ask, should you do this? Because I fucking told you so. Other than that, it incorporates a variety of training methodologies into one, and give you a great benchmark for your personal strength endurance. Lastly, it increases your capacity for performing brutal, volume heavy workouts, and generally transforms you from a slack-jawed faggot into a goddamned sexual Tyrannosaurus.

Roux-Lange, the oft-quoted turn-of-the-century exercise physiologist, laid out the following in his Funktionelle Anpassung Usw:

Only when muscle performs with greatest resistance in a unit of time than before, will its functional cross section need to increase... hypertrophy is seen only in muscles that must perform a great amount of work in a unit of time.

This is the philosophy on which John Little built his Power Factor training, and the ideology on which Charles Staley created EDT. Both systems are essentially the same idea. Power Factor Training measures workouts by pounds lifted per minute, so it uses the formula weight x sets x reps / time = Power Factor. Staley uses a slightly different measurement, calling the result of the same formula average force per rep, but the idea is essentially the same (though he would dispute this claim, I'm sure). Staley's system uses 15 minute blocks of 2 exercise supersets. Both systems, however, caution their followers against using ultra-taxing full-body exercises, as they carry too much risk. Any student of economics knows that one can only see maximal returns with maximal risk, and that low risk funds and stocks invariably produce low yields. I'm not about low yields, and I'm not about low risks. Nothing risked, nothing gained, right? Thus, the principle tenet of Chaos and PAIN is this:



The Bulgarians are proof that ever-increasing training loads with full-body, high risk shit is the way to go. Additionally, the European Journal of Exercise Physiology published an article by Andy Fry in 2002 that stated that "heavy intensities must be used to result in a maximal growth response as measured on a cellular level. You can't get the best possible results without using the heaviest weights possible." As such, it behooves one to use the heaviest weight possible, as many times as possible, over the shortest period of time, as it achieves all three of the types of ways to achieve maximum muscle tension: lifting a maximal load, lifting a non-maximal load to failure (as you can repeat it after a short rest), and the repeated effort method. Thus, utilizing this technique, you can simultaneously achieve four goals:

  1. Increase muscle cross sections
  2. Increase ME strength
  3. Increase muscular endurance
  4. Look like a total fucking badass
This, combined with the fact that it makes you into a metabolic inferno, makes Uncle the cornerstone of the ChAoS and PAIN training style, and something any bonafide badass should incorporate into their training, stat.

Go forth and conquer, fuckers.

Now playing: Dr. Acula - Why I'm Afraid Of Bees
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  1. You use a few too many abbreviations that it sometimes reads like a mistake. Perhaps spell out what the letters stand for? Just a suggestion.

  2. We used your Uncle! style training for deads last night - excelent. The competition of it all took us both far beyond how far we thought we could both go.

  3. Rippetoe's starting strength is the best beginners programme out there.

    Get past the point where you can add weight to your big lifts three times a week and then you can get creative, but till then, there is no better advice.