Craig Capurso’s Heavy-Volume Gut-Check Workout

Are you ready to test your power, stamina, agility, and core strength in a single, heavy-volume, AMRAP workout? Cellucor-sponsored athlete and IFBB pro Craig Capurso is.

Capurso designed this workout to develop lean muscle and athleticism, but also to give you a way to test yourself every once in a while to see what your weak point is. The three moves here, combined in this unique protocol, will definitely expose any weakness, be it legs, lungs, or muscles.

“You have a performance element and a strength element—combine those two, you’re going to have a better engine at the end,” Capurso says.

This timed, 20-minute workout consists of three big exercises performed back to back for eight total rounds. Each exercise is performed for 20-second timed intervals of as many rounds as possible, and you’re allowed 30 seconds of rest in between. Take it, because—trust me—you’ll need it.

Craig recommends performing this workout periodically as a “gut check,” or as a test of your overall progress. Once every couple of weeks should be adequate! Definitely don’t pencil it in multiple times a week. This is a “special occasion” kind of routine. It will test anybody’s limits—and that’s the point!

Craig Capurso’s Heavy-Volume Gut-Check Workout

Circuit: 8 rounds

Resting 30 sec. between movements and rounds

1

Barbell Deadlift

Adding 10 lbs. each round

1 set, 20 reps




2

Pullups

Perform weighted if possible, but keep weight consistent

1 set, 20 reps




Craig’s Technique Keys

Deadlift: The first exercise is a heavy deadlift. Capurso recommends adding five pounds per side after each round. He starts this workout at 315 pounds, then increases to 325, 335, 345, and so on until he reaches 385 pounds for the final round.

Heavy volume and maximum effort intervals increase aerobic capacity and tap into anaerobic capacity once oxygen is depleted. If your goals are strength hypertrophy, Capurso recommends a single rep approach where you set the bar down in between each rep, get yourself set, then pull again. If you’re a CrossFitter who competes against the clock, then plant your heels on the floor and find your rhythm with touch-and-go reps.

Injury is not conducive to high performance, so choose a weight progression that allows you to maintain proper form throughout the workout. As Capurso says, “When the bar moves, your body should move—your body should not move first.”

Pull-ups: Pull-ups are the second exercise in this intense trifecta, and once again you have 20 seconds to complete as many rounds as possible. Capurso ups the intensity by using a weight belt, but doesn’t add any additional weight throughout the workout.

“By the end of eight rounds, it’s going to get very challenging,” explains Capurso, “so I’m going to keep that stable weight.”

Even without adding weight between rounds, the number of reps you can manage here will likely drop dramatically over the course of eight rounds. It may be 10-12 in the beginning, and half of that toward the end. Don’t sweat it! Just make note of what you accomplish, and next time you try this workout try to improve on the total.

Especially if you add weight, your grip is likely to give out first, so if you want to wrap up on these, go for it. You’ve got 30 seconds of rest to get into proper position, so take time to get yourself ready so you can hit as many reps as possible on each round.

Wall Walk: The final exercise in this gut-check challenge is the wall walk—which Capurso insists is just a simple technique.

He says, “Crawl your toes up the wall, touch your nose to the wall, then crawl back down. That’s one rep—and there’s not much to it.”

You could add a weight vest to up the intensity, but think twice before doing it. After all, you’d have to take it on and off for every round, which makes your already brief rest periods anything but restful.

It Will Be Hard, But Do It Anyway

Comparing total rep count from one workout to the next allows you to use this workout to assess your strength and performance. That’s true with all workouts, but especially this one. Track your reps for each movement in each round—even though it won’t be easy in the later rounds—then hold onto that info and strategize to defeat it next time around. Do this workout once every few weeks—and prepare yourself for total-body annihilation.

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