Monday, March 4, 2013

King TUT

There's lots of ways to make an exercise worse; coming up with new variations happens all the time. Today I want to show you all a variation that my buddy Dan and I came up with about a year ago in the middle of a hard training session.

We were in the midst of a hypertrophy phase (don't judge) and wanted a way to make the high-rep finishing set of any exercise as brutally miserable as possible. Honestly, the exercise we were doing when we came up with this was the leg press, I'll admit it. But, hey, it was the finisher on a day where we did 10x3 snatch grip deadlifts from a deficit, so beat it.

First, we tried paused reps. Those suck.

Then we increase our Time Under Tension (TUT) by adding in a 3 second eccentric. That also sucked.

We also tried the Ben Bruno special of 1.5 reps where you add in a half-rep after every full rep. More total suckage.

We then had the epiphany to add them all together and King TUT was born!

The beauty of this exercise is in the sheer misery of it. A high rep set with this scheme can last upwards of a minute, and it takes some serious guts to get all the way through a set of these. It's a 3-5 second eccentric (lowering), pause, half-rep concentric (up), pause, back down, pause, explode up. Let's take a look.

The exercise I usually introduce this to people with is the goblet squat, but the possibilities are really endless as to what you can do it with. I personally don't find rowing (other than a TRX row) or deadlift variations to be particularly effective with most clients; you could get away with an RDL or TBDL with a more advanced athlete though. The eccentric stress is harder to control and provides an increased risk to the lumbar spine, and I don't think it's worth the limited weight you'd have to use for it. But that's my personal opinion.

Why the goblet squat first? Well, aside from being brutal, I think the King TUT is a great way to teach someone how to really control their body during a squat (any lift) and to feel the different positions. It allows them to strengthen several positions of the exercise while reinforcing the proper way to create and maintain tension during the lift. You can load it minimally for a new athlete/client or go pretty heavy with it for a more experienced lifter. It can be either the main lift for day or act as a finisher and leave someone sucking some serious wind.

Here are some other exercises you can use King TUT with:

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Have a great day, and go lift some heavy shit!


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  2. your blog is great mike. plenty of motivation and tons of humor. the two things you need in every intense workout. love the king TUTs and the montage at the crossfit gym. good stuff here. thanks for the motivation.