How I used “Ninja Training” to join Hugh Jackman in the 1000-lb Club!

This post was originally posted on Wellness Force.


Please excuse me while I toot my own horn!

I be tootin, you be hatin

That’s right!

On, July 20, 2015, I joined Hugh Jackman, AKA the “Wolverine” and many other really strong individuals in a very elite club, known by many as the “Grown Man Strength Club”!

So what exactly is this “grown man strength club”? Well the real name of this elusive club is; the 1000-pound club, and in order to gain entry into this club, you have to bench press, back squat, and deadlift a combined total of 1000-lbs, all within a 3-hr window!

On July 20, 2015 - I finally became a MAN! ;)

On July 20, 2015 – I finally became a MAN! 😉

So at 0600 on July 20, 2015 I kicked down the door of the “club”, went it swinging, and the results are listed below:

  • Bench press: 300-lbs
  • Squat: 315-lbs
  • Deadlift: 385-lbs

Add those numbers up and you will find that the total is exactly 1000 pounds!

Check out the video below to see the completed lifts:

So how did I do it? Well to answer that I have to take you way back in time, all the way back to 1989. I, like just every other red blooded american boy was obsessed with “karate movies”. In fact many a school yard debate was had on the very topic of who would win in a fight, VanDamn or Steven Seagal. While the debates never seem to have a clear winner, every now and again someone would chime in and finish the debate by saying, “they both aren’t shit compared to a NINJA”! Oh, snap! That’s right, to an 8-year old boy, ninjas were like unicorns, leprechauns, UFO’s, and/or Bigfoot, everyone claimed to have seen one, but no one could ever prove that they were real!

This is my holy trinity

This is my holy trinity.

But real or not, that did not stop us from talking about “proven” ninja training methods. One method I vividly remember was the “high jump” method, or should I say myth? So here is the method/myth…

You take a young Ninja-in-training and put him into a small pit and make him jump out 10-times every day. The “catch” is, everyday the Ninja-trainers would make the pit a just a little deeper, say 1/4 of an inch. This 1/4 of an inch was almost unnoticeable to the ninja-in-training but nevertheless the hole was in-fact deeper than the day before. So after 7-years or so of doing this, the Ninja was able to jump 20-feet into the air!

No one has ever spotted a Ninja and lived to tell about it!

No one has ever spotted a Ninja and lived to tell about it!

Is this true? Probably not, but it is a very interesting concept and it got me thinking what would happen if I took this ninja myth and applied it to weight training. How strong could I get if I increased the weight I lifted by just 1-lb a day?

So I bought some fractional plates and on May 26, 2015 I set out to become a powerlifting ninja! The goal was to do bench press, squats, and deadlift everyday. My starting weights are shown below and were about 95% of my 1-rep max.

Starting weight (May 26, 2015):

  • Bench press: 265-lbs
  • Squat: 245-lbs
  • Deadlift: 300-lbs
Fractional plates.

Fractional plates. The smallest plates are 1/4 of a pound.

So first let me say that the ninja training actually worked!!! Well not exactly as planned but I did get much stronger. In just 2-months I increased my bench press by 35-lbs, my squat by 70-lbs, and my deadlift by 85-lbs. That’s a combined 190-lb increase!

So here is how it went down…

I was able to stay on track with the original plan for 14-days. Which meant, for 2-weeks I benched, squatted, and deadlifted everyday adding a minimum of 1-lb to each lift. I would start each training session with a standard warmup of jump rope, then I would continue my warmup by doing a few reps of each exercise at lighter weights, methodically working my way up to the goal weight of the day. I would then load up the bar with the “weight of the day” and do a 3 x 1 set. This means I would lift the weight 1 time, rest and then I would repeat this process 2 more times, lifting the “weight of the day” 3-times to ensure it wasn’t a fluke.

Let me tell you, those first 14-days were extremely hard. Well actually the first 5-days were a blast, I was increasing in weight and I felt great, but then it started to get hard. After the first 5 days, I noticed my joints becoming really sore, specifically my knees and elbows. Then my shoulders starting getting really tight, in-fact my whole body starting hurting. I started experiencing a really deep muscle soreness like I have never experienced before. On a level on 1 to 10 I would say the “pain” I was experiencing was a solid 5. Which meant, the pain was minor, however it was consistent and I could definitely tell that my muscles were not recovering properly. But it was more than just a feeling I also had some proof, I also used the SKULPT* measurement device to analyze my Muscle Quality results.

Muscle quality going down

I had my initial measurement right before I started this Ninja training experiment and on June 10th I took anther measurement and  the results speak for themselves.

On May 12, 2015 about a week and a half before I started the Ninja Training experiment I took my first SKULPT measurement resulting in an overall muscle quality of 125 (average for most people is 100). Then on June 10 about two weeks into the experiment, my muscle quality measurement was 121, which meant that my muscle quality had dropped by 4 points. This data from the SKUPLT combined with the feeling of a deep muscle soreness convinced me that I needed to include some rest days if I had any hopes of becoming a powerlifting ninja. I then cut back to 3-days a week and immediately starting feeling better and my muscle quality even began to rise!

More rest = stronger muscles. Who knew? ;)

More rest = stronger muscles. Who knew? 😉

So on June 21, 2015 after eleven days of incorporating some rest days into my programming, I took another SKLUPT measurement and noticed that my muscle quality had shot back up to 125, my original starting measurement. This was great news because my strength was increasing, my muscle quality was increasing, and overall my body was feeling much less “beat-up”.

This Ninja experiment was not only hard because of the constant muscle, joint, and tendon soreness but actually doing the workout was much harder than you would think, and it got progressively harder each and everyday. Think about it, I started at 95% of my 1 rep max which meant that after just a few days I was lifting more weight then I ever had before, literally setting personal records every time I walked into the gym (well at least in the squat and bench press, 4 years ago I deadlifted 400-lbs)!


The” Iron” never lies!

Setting the personal records in the bench and squat was a lot of fun but after the first two weeks, the lifts stopped being fun and started to become hard, literally testing my limits both mentally and physically. This is because as the weight increased, so did the pressure to perform! I felt a lot of pressure to continually improve (thats how ninja’s did it, right?) and some days the “weight of the day” felt easy and some days the “weight of the day” felt impossibly heavy.

Impossibly heavy? That’s right, on about 5 different days over the course of this experiment I failed to lift the weight of the day, and let me tell you, that was demoralizing! But with any failure comes a choice, you can give up or you can press on, and I chose to become motivated by my failure and use it as an opportunity to get better.

When I failed to make the lift, I would re-focus my attention on what went wrong and make the necessary changes to my training plan. Sometimes it (the failure) meant I needed more rest, other times I decided that I needed to lower the weight and increase my reps to improve my overall muscle endurance. Hell, one time I even decided that I needed to increase the weight and only focus on the negative portion of the lift (with the help of spotters, of course). But what really helped more than anything was my refusal to throw in the towel…


Awesome Henry Rollins quote!

So if I could give you one piece of advice it would be to not accept failure. If you ever hope to be successful at anything, you must realize that failure is not the final verdict, it is just part of the growth process. And this knowledge is more powerful than any secret ninja training method, that I can assure you!!!

So what’s next? Who knows maybe a bodybuilding competition, say early 2016 😉

*If the dates and the graph look a little weird on the pictures of the SKULPT results, that is because the SKULPT seems to have a major flaw in its ability to store previous results. It is a real bummer! Sometimes it remembers your previous measurements and sometimes it doesn’t. I took this into account by taking screen captures of my results. So the muscle quality results I talk about are correct but the graph at the bottom is not always correct. Long story short, I think the SKULPT has a lot of potential but it still has some bugs, so take every measurement with a grain of salt.



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