The Following is a Guest Post by Craig Ballantyne:
Evolution of Fat Loss Cardio
I’ve been meaning to write this article for a long time. Today I’m
going to give you the story of how I solved the problem of getting
an efficient and effective fat loss program finished in 45 minutes.
Essentially, how I invented Turbulence Training.
And then I’ll end with a sample TT workout for you…
But first, let’s take a trip down memory lane to the winter of
98-99. I was but a lowly grad student, studying the effects of
androstenedione (the supplement taken by the might Mark McGwire
during his record-breaking home run quest in ’98).
In my study (which was published in the Canadian Journal of Applied
Physiology for any science nerds like myself out there), we had
guys use the supplement and go through a couple of weight training
sessions. By February of ’99 I was stuck in the lab, analyzing the
blood samples using some fancy radio-active isotopes.
And when I say stuck in the lab, I mean STUCK. I’d get there at
7am, and record my last data point at 11pm. Sixteen hours of
mad science. And if I wasn’t there, I was downstairs in the
medical library, studying papers on testosterone and training.
Now coming from a very athletic background, this sedentary
lifestyle didn’t sit well with me. But there I was, studying for a
degree in Exercise Physiology and left with no time for exercise.
Or so I thought.
Fortunately, I actually had a 50 minute window once per day of
“down-time” while the lab’s gamma-counter analyzed blood samples.
That left me 50 minutes to get to the gym (5 minutes across campus)
and get a workout in the remaining 40 or so minutes. I knew that
if I applied my studies to the workout, I could get maximum results
in minimum time.
As a former athlete, I knew that I had to find a way to stay fit
and to avoid the fat gain that comes with working long hours in a
sedentary environment. And I also had to stay true to the
high-school bodybuilder I once was, so there was no way I was
willing to sacrifice my muscle to one of those long-cardio, low
protein fat-loss plans that were popular at the time.
Instead, I had to draw on my academic studies and my experiences
working with athletes as the school’s Strength & Conditioning Coach.
I knew that sprint intervals were associated with more fat loss
than slow cardio, and I knew that you could also increase aerobic
fitness by doing sprints (but you can’t increase sprint performance
by doing aerobic training).
So clearly, intervals were (and ARE!) superior to long slow cardio.
I had seen first hand the incredible results of sprint intervals in
the summer and fall, as the athletes made huge fitness improvements
and shed winter fat in a short time using my interval programs. I
knew that intervals had to be the next step in the evolution of cardio.
The biggest benefit of intervals? A lot of results in a short
amount of time. I knew that I only had 40 minutes to train, and
therefore I could only spend 15-20 minutes doing intervals.
Now onto the strength training portion of the workouts. I knew that
a high-volume bodybuilding program wasn’t going to cut it – I just
didn’t have time. But in the past year I had read so many lifting
studies, that I knew exactly what exercises I needed to do to
maximize my lifting time in the gym.
Those exercises were standing, multi-muscle, movements such as
squats, presses, rows, power cleans, and plenty of other standing
single-leg exercises. I knew those exercises would bring me far
more results than those people sitting on machines would ever achieve.
And I also knew that I had to lift heavier than the average Joe or
Jane Gym-goer lifts. I just knew that doing lighter weights and
high-reps wasn’t going to cut it. And a research study from 2001
later showed that I was right – when women did 8 reps per set, they
had a significantly greater increase in post-workout metabolism
than if they did 15 reps per set.
So I had my plan. Bust my tail over to the gym, through the cold,
dreary Canadian winter afternoon, and do a quick but thorough
warm-up (specific to my lifts – none of that 5 minutes on the
treadmill waste of time).
Once I got through the warm-up, I did as many sets as I could in
the remainder of the 20 minutes for strength training.
At that point, I knew that supersets were the only way to go if I
wanted to maximize the number of sets I could do…so the
non-competing superset of Turbulence Training was put in place.
By non-competing, I mean that the 2 exercises in the superset don’t
interfere with one another. So you can use upper and lower body
exercises together, or pushing and pulling exercises. Just be
careful not to use two grip-intensive exercises together in a
superset – otherwise, one exercise will suffer, if not both.
And then I followed up the strength training with intervals, as I
knew these had to follow the lifting, otherwise it would not be the
correct exercise order. Remember, intervals first leads to
premature fatigue. Lift first, cardio later. Forget that old wives
tale about doing cardio first to burn more fat. That’s junk.
You know, I remember the exact day and exact workout that this all
came together into the Turbulence Training program. It hit me as I
was finishing my intervals. I knew I had found something that was
like fat loss magic.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to put it in a pill. But I’ve
been able to put it down on paper in all of the TT manuals.
The exact workout I used that day went like this…
1 set of Bodyweight Squats
1 set of pushups
1 set of Squats with the empty bar
1 set of light dumbbell chest presses
1 set of moderate weight barbell squats
1 set of moderate weight dumbbell chest presses
Strength Training Superset #1
Barbell Squats paired with Dumbbell Chest Presses
3 supersets, aiming for 8 reps per side per set
Strength Training Superset #2
DB Rows paired with Barbell Forward Lunges
3 supersets, aiming for 8 reps per set
Stationary Bike Intervals
After a warm-up, I did 6 intervals of 45 seconds work and 45 seconds
rest, finishing with a cool-down.
And from that point in time, I’ve tried to share this and all the
other Turbulence Training workouts with as many men and women as
possible. The same men and women that I would see day-in and
day-out performing the same ineffective slow-cardio fat loss
programs, and not making a darn change month after month. And
every day they would see me, soaked in sweat, feeling great and
looking lean, and finishing another TT workout.
Eventually I noticed these other men and women weren’t around as
consistently as before, and then soon enough they would drop out
completely – after all, they weren’t getting results with their
slow cardio and aerobics classes (yep, those were still around in
And so here we are today…thousands of TT users later, with
national fitness magazines like Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and
Shape spreading the good word about Turbulence Training.
Thousands of TT users, dozens of personal trainers, and even
several national fitness magazines all agree with me, Turbulence
Training is the #1 way to fast fat loss.
Thanks for being a part of the TT Lifestyle Revolution, and for
sharing this new and improved fat loss training and cardio system
with the world.
If you haven’t already, get your own copy of the TT workouts and
nutrition guidelines here:
So when you see someone frustrated with their ineffective fat loss
program, tell them there is a better way. It’s research-based,
efficient, and most of all, effective. And yes, it goes against the
crowd. But it works.
And it’s now better than ever,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Creator, Turbulence Training
Beginners should also start with the Introductory TT workouts to
prepare their muscles for the upcoming intense training.
For others, it’s best to start with the Intermediate Level TT
workouts. If those aren’t enough of a challenge, you can move onto
the Original TT workout and follow the 16-week advanced program
If at any time you need a break, try the TT Bodyweight 4-week plan.
Get started on the road to fat loss with your very own copy of
Turbulence Training & the Nutrition Guide