08 March 2009

*ChAoS and PAIN - The Basics

So, by now, my fuckers, you've gotta be wondering what I'm on about- what C&P is all about. Before I start, anyone reading this who is a Wieder, Mentzer, or Rippetoe mark will scream "Overtraining!" at the top of their lungs, but won't actually run around the room smashing things simply out of fear that the overtraining boogeyman will steal their soul whilst they sleep if they actually lift things or move around when not doing the aforementions' paltry training volume.

To those people- there is absolutely no clearly defined method by which a person can predict their capacity for training, nor is there a set rule for what will always constitute overtraining. One can build their capacity for work to whatever level they so desire, provided they're willing to invest enough time and effort. As the Barbarian Brothers so succinctly stated, "there's no such thing as overtraining, just undereating and undersleeping."

The key tenet of Chaos and Pain is to train as much as you want, but to always be doing something useful. Machine work is rarely useful. Cable work is likewise rarely useful. Sets of 10 to 12 are useless to a degree that I find myself at a loss to articulate- the intensity is too low to produce results in anyone but genetic freaks, and fast twitch muscle fibers rarely get fatigued enough to stimulate growth with that rep scheme, unless you're using massive amounts of forced reps, drop sets, and other ridiculous intensity-raising methods. 5x5 will produce mediocre results for most, but that's inherent in the philosophy, as it's a low risk, low reward sort of enterprise.

On Chaos and Pain, you're going to train a MINIMUM of 5 days a week, if you're going balls out. I've never tried to pack the volume of work I do into less, really. I've had backoff weeks because my legs were cramping like crazy, which reduced my training load for a week, but this program is all about constantly busting your ass.

The exercises:
Front Squat
Clean and Press (and all of its variations... power cleans, push press, fat bar clean and press, log clean and press, dumbbell clean and press, reverse grip/fast curl and press)
Snatches (one and two arm)
Push Presses
Push Jerks (from the back)
Military presses (one and two arm)
Deadlifts (one arm, two arm, trap bar, etc)
Bench press (close grip, reverse grip, and regular flat bench)
Pullups (weighted and unweighted)
Dips (weighted and unweighted)
High Pulls
any other heavy ass exercise you want. Stones, steel suitcases, farmers walks, throwing weights for height or distance, etc. The key is that they're heavy, not conducted on a padded seat or bench (with the exception of bench press), and require you to be a fucking man while doing it.

The basics: I typically combine one push with one pull and one squat three times per week. The exercises are basically a grab bag, from which you can grab any of the above. On those three days, you will shoot for 15-30 total reps, depending on your rep scheme. Doing triples? go with 10x3. Doubles? I rarely do them, but shoot for 10-15 sets. Singles? They're my bread and butter, and I'll do anywhere from 15 to 30 of them, depending on the workout. I love them.

The key to getting ripped and strong on this program is to use AT LEAST 85% of your 1 rep max (1RM) on everything, and I like to stay in the 87.5%-100% range. That means HEAVY. Always. Well, almost always. If you're going to squat 3 times a week, make the midweek squat workout a light one. i like to load 135 or 225 on the bar and squat for time for a couple of sets. I just put a song on my ipod that's 2:30 or 3:00 for 135, or 1:30-2:00 for 225 and squat pretty much nonstop. If you start dying, just stand there under the weight.

Thus, one of the big three workouts might look like this:
Back Squat 10x3
Push Jerks from behind the neck 15x1
Weighted Pullups 5x4 ( I often end up doing slightly higher reps on pullups, since it's a pain to load the belt with small plates once you've got a couple of 45s on there.

If you choose to do clean and press, that counts as both a pull and a press. Thus, you can just kill yourself at that exercise, or you can do that and another exercise if you want.

So, what to do on the off days? I like busting out the ab wheel and one of the straps people use for hanging leg raises to work neck off a high cable, and doing high rep arms with a fat bar, and calves. I also quite enjoy doing the Bear, the Super Bear, or playing uncle by myself, or with a lifting partner.

That shit explained:
The Bear- it's a clean and press complex. I'd start with 95lbs and work my way up, were I you guys. It's a clean from the floor into a front squat, to an overhead press, to a back squat, to another overhead press, to a front squat, and then cleaning the bar back down to the floor. That's one rep. I like doing those for 5x5, or in an uncle format, which I'll address in a second.

The Super Bear- A buddy of mine and I decided that the Bear didn't suck enough, so we added two more squats- overhead squats, at the top of both overhead presses. Thus, it's clean to front squat, overhead press to overhead squat, then drop the bar on your back and back squat it, overhead press to overhead squat, then drop the bar on your collarbones and front squat, then back to the floor. Fun, right? I think we might have had a best of 5x5 with that using 115, and I was sore for a week.

Uncle- I've explained this. Pay attention, stupid.

Want a weekly program? Well, that would defy the very definition of the name. It's supposed to be chaotic. There's no need for periodization in my routine, since it's a constant adaptation phase. If you want an example of what a week might look like, here you go. just don't do this every week.

Front Squat 12x1x455lbs (90% 1RM)
Shrugs 12x2x765lbs
Close grip BP 10x3x315

Clean and press, 30 reps with 135lbs as fast as possible
Ab wheel 5x10

Back Squat for time. 2:30x3x135lbs
Weighted Pullups 7x4x100lbs
Push Jerks 5x3x255, 3x1x275, 2x1x285

Donkey Calf Raise 10x10xthe stack
Ab Wheel 3x5 standing
Unweighted pullups 100 reps

Back squat 15x1x565
Bent over rows 6x6x315
Military press 12x2x200

Arms, with the fat bar, giant-setting reverse curls with overhead tricep extensions and behind the neck press, for 30 mins with 20 second rest in between sets.


The program does have a basis in Waterbury, in addition to the Bulgarian training regime, Arnold's high volume stuff, and an abject hatred of Mike Mentzer thrown in for good measure.
Look at these two douches. The one on the left is Mentzer, presumably at a mustache convention.
A word on rest periods- rest as little as possible. I typically rest about 45 seconds to one minute in between sets, singles included. That keeps the heart rate up, burns the Kcals, and improves your muscular endurance while building strength.

I do like doing jump sets, Waterbury style. I'll typically do them on my push-pull exercises, doing something along the lines of close grips jump setted with bent rows. I keep my rests super low, so it's almost a superset, but if you're working opposing muscle groups, the antagonist of the muscle you're working relaxes completely, so you should be pretty fresh, albeit winded.

On your off days, feel free to work your weak points if they're not too fatigued. There are weeks that I'll train shoulders 5x, but never do the same thing two days in a row. I always change the sets and reps, at least, and typically change the exercises as well. Thus, whatever bodypart you want to bring up, try training it 5 or 6 times a week, but alternate heave and light days, and cycle exercises.

An example:
Monday- Push Jerks 15x1
Tuesday- unloaded fat bar behind the neck press as part of a tri-set
Wednesday- Strict Military press (standing, feet together, no leg drive) 5x6
Thursday- Bodyweight dips (hits the front delts a bit)
Friday- Clean and Press 10x3
Saturday- Axe Hold with dumbbells for time

That's ChAoS and PAIN in a nutshell. A bloody great big nutshell. You love it. Now go lift something heavy until your fucking eyes bleed.

Now playing:
Diskreet - The Bigger Complex
via FoxyTunes


  1. Not sure why you think someone who does SS or hangs on Rip's nuts would cry about this workout. It's not terribly different from SS or the texas method. High frequency, high intensity (defined as weight on the bar not "effort" ldo), full body, big lifts etc.

  2. dude your 165 pounds. hows that for chaos and pain??

  3. dude you're so badass, wish I could be you...

  4. Penis, penis and more penis.

  5. whats up with the gay comments?

  6. This is amusingly similar to what Rip prescribes for intermediates. In fact for advanced trainees Rip prescribes more overall volume. Your hatred is rather puzzling: it might be more appopriately aimed at Jim Wendler if you're looking for a powerlifting coach to demonise.

    Cool blog, btw, just reading thru it today.


  7. Hey, how much do you lower your volume when cutting? Is it possible to build work capacity while on a cut? I've been doing 3x a week for years, will upping my volume and frequency while on a cut kill me?

  8. Also, there is a competition in my area on October 12th, I plan on entering as squat only, I have shoulder issues and am taking time off from the bench and my deadlift is embarrassingly lower than my squat. Since i'm dropping a weight class, should I just cut out deadlifts until the competition and focus on squats and then afterwords focus on bringing up my DL numbers?

    Age 20
    Weight 190-195
    Squat 385
    Deadlift 275 (305 to knees is the highest I've pulled)

  9. Hey Jamie, how often should switch up the lifts? Should i focus on ohp for a while and then switch or should I just do btn pp, then ohp, then c&pp, then klokov and so on?

    1. You're a little late to the party man, Jamie isnt really too active on here anymore. Anyway I would say you should play with it but in general it's a good idea to have a variation or 2 to do in addition to your main movement. So for example: press twice a week but on one day do regular overhead press and on the second day do z press. Change up the sets and reps at each workout. After a while you will get stale on one or both of these movements and at that point it's time to change them. Best of luck.