You’re about to discover how to get an Olympic-caliber physique using an old Soviet training method that’ll barely make you break a sweat, and may even feel easy—that’s right, easy, as in “not very fatiguing.”
How it works
Circuit training is typically brutal, running you through multiple exercises without rest until you cough up a lung—that’s one way to burn fat. But the sports scientists of the former Soviet Union had a better one. It’s all about muscle fibers.
Type I fibers are designed for low-intensity, long-duration work, like running. Type II fibers are built for explosive strength activities, like lifting. The Soviets found that repeatedly working the Type II fibers to only mild fatigue, then letting them recover fully, caused them to take on more Type I characteristics. That is, their work capacity improved. And better work capacity in your strongest muscle fibers means being able to perform more reps, run faster and farther, and complete workouts with more energy than ever—all of which increase your fat-burning potential.
Surprisingly, the road to that level of endurance is a fairly easy one: Stop your sets before you feel the burn, rest till you feel ready, and repeat. As a result, your circuit workouts won’t be nauseating. In about six weeks, test your max reps on any of the exercises and you’ll realize you’ve got the body of a Hummer—with the mpg of a Prius.
Alternate the two workouts (A and B) for three total sessions per week. So you’ll do Workout A twice in Week 1 and Workout B twice in Week 2. You’ll perform the same exercises each session, but with different intensities.
Perform the exercises as a circuit, doing one set for each move in turn and resting as needed between sets. (When you can talk comfortably, you’re rested enough to go on.) Nevertheless, don’t sit down—keep your rest active by walking around. Repeat the circuit for 20 to 30 minutes, stopping when you feel your form has begun to break down.
Pavel Tsatsouline, a former Soviet special-forces instructor, is currently an adviser to U.S. military and law-enforcement units.