Turbulence Training – The Most Efficient Fat Loss Workout?

November 8, 2008

You may or may not have heard of Turbulence Training by Craig Ballantyne. I remember reading about it a few years back and kind of shrugged it off as a workout for beginners. I figured such a brief workout wouldn’t work for someone like myself who has lifted for over 20 years. I was wrong! As a matter of fact, Craig has case study after case study of advanced athletes achieving ultra-high levels of conditioning with Turbulence Training.

Craig Ballantyne – Ripped Year Round From Brief Workouts

craig ballantyne turbulence trainingHere is a recent picture of Craig with his dog. I always tell people to take advice from people who are actually in great shape.

Craig works out 3-4 times per week and uses extremely brief 30-40 minute workouts to stay in great shape.

This will be a 2 part post. In part one, I’ll explain a bit about Turbulence Training and why it works so well. In part two, Craig answers specific questions I asked him last week about his workout principles. A great program for the lean Hollywood look.

Turbulence Training -The Story Behind Its Creation

Back in 1998-1999, Craig was earning his master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and literally spent 16 hours per day in the lab. He would get there at 7AM and leave at 11PM. He only had 50 minutes of down-time, while the lab’s gamma-counter analyzed blood samples (he was studying the effects of Androstenedione on athletic performance). The gym he trained in was 5 minutes across campus, so that only gave him 40 minutes to get in a solid workout.

How He Constructed His 40 Minute Workout

So with only 40 minutes, he was forced to be efficient.  I failed to mention that he previously worked with athletes as the school’s Strength and Conditioning Coach. The athletes he trained had seen tremendous results with sprint intervals (HIIT)…so that was going to be a big component of his workout. Plus he could do HIIT in 15 minutes, leaving him 25 minutes for strength training. He also knew that high reps weren’t going to be as efficient as low reps. So the lifting part of his workout was brief heavy strength training with low reps.

Brief Strength Training + HIIT

Does the formula above sound familiar? Well…this is what I consistently talk about on this site…because it develops a lean, ripped, athletic physique with just the right amount of muscle. The cool thing is how Craig makes this formula more time efficient. He does “non-competing” supersets to get the strength training part of the workout done in a much shorter period of time.

What is a “Non-Competing” Superset?

This is a set which involves doing one lift for a body part followed by another lift which works an entirely different body part. You do these sets back to back and then rest for a 30-60 seconds. Basically, this is a way to get more quality sets done in less time.  If strength is your goal, then you can rest a bit longer in between these supersets to be able to lift slightly heavier weights.

Note:  I made the incorrect assumption that Turbulence Training was just circuit training meant to increase the heart rate by doing exercises back to back. Increased heart rate is NOT the goal of the resistance part of the workout. The main reason for non-competing supersets is to get more quality work done in less time. His basic course includes a 50 minute recording that explains the real reason why intervals and supersets work at burning body fat…going against any main-stream publication that I’ve read. It actually makes a lot of sense.

The HIIT Part of The Workout is Very Flexible

I’m a big fan of doing sprint intervals on a treadmill, but there are many many ways to get HIIT done without cardio equipment at all. As a matter of fact, Craig has several body weight only circuits that are extremely effective. Here is a free page that he created with videos demonstrating a lot of the exercises he recommends: Turbulence Training Videos

turbulence training treadmill workout

Note: On the video page there is a video called “High Intensity Interval Training”. This is the exact sprinting Treadmill Workout that I have done for over 10 years. There is another video that I think is outstanding called “Fat Burning Circuit”. This is a way to do HIIT at home with no equipment except for a stability ball. I am actually going to add this once a week for those extra busy days that I can’t get into the gym.

Why I’m a Fan of Turbulence Training

In the past, I had the time to easily get in 4-5 workouts per week. In fact, I have consistently averaged around 5 workouts per week for close to 20 years. These days, life is getting busier and busier. I picked up the Deluxe Edition of Turbulence Training as a way for me to get the same results in less time. I will incorporate many of Craig’s methods in a way that works for me. I have my own variations and incorporate tweaks here and there, but this is going to be a big time saver.

In Part 2, I Ask Craig Questions About Turbulence Training

Some of the questions revolve around building the slim “Hollywood” physique as well as how well this workout works for women.  He talks about how he recently trained an actress to get slim for her upcoming movie role, while retaining her slim and sexy physique. I also ask him what his workouts look like these days, etc. It was cool of him to take some time and answer some questions for readers of Fitness Black Book.

Craig Ballantyne – 7 Questions and Answers About Turbulence Training

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later November 8, 2008 at 3:06 am

Looking forward to the next post Rusty. I’m a big fan of short, sharp shock training these days and am myself down to 3 or 4 x 30 minutes per week. Will be really interested to hear what Craig has to say in response to your questions.

Caleb - Double Your Gains November 8, 2008 at 11:53 am

Rusty!

I’ve known about TT for a while, I always assumed like you the first part, the strength training was just simple circuit training — but I like the fact that it’s strength based — and that the idea is “more work in less time” — highly dense strength training always equals great results (Charles Staley’s E.D.T. is based soley around this principle!).

I’m gonna read part two now, so far I like what I’m hearing.

Later!
Caleb

joe November 8, 2008 at 11:53 am

Hey Rusty, I have a question. I have an underdeveloped upper chest. Will just sticking to the strength training plus HIIT balance it out if I only do incline lifts for the chest, or should I take out some time and develop it according to Paval’s technique? Thank you in advance for taking the time out to answer this.

Helder November 8, 2008 at 2:37 pm

I’m a big fan of Craig, he’s someone who brought something new, it’s an excellent choice for posting.

Yavor November 9, 2008 at 1:29 am

I like Craig’s story. There is always a way if you are willing to work hard.

Yavor

btw, I am preparing a big announcement on my blog related to TT.

Garrett November 9, 2008 at 9:15 pm

Nice post!!! I will be using this workout in the spring when i am ready to cut down my weight but still maintain my strength.

Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips November 12, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Wow. That story is hardcore. Working 7am till 11pm and still making time for a workout. Very impressive.

AJ November 14, 2008 at 5:39 am

Hi Rusty, what a great site you have! I have a question, which I hope you’re able to answer!

First a little background information….

I used to be the bodybuilder-type-of-training-guy in the gym, you know… Big arms, neck, legs and a big belly. I’m 24 yo and 5,8′ tall. Then I cleaned up my diet and added traditional cardio and lost a lot of weight. I got my fat percentage down to 13, 5 %. At this fat percentage I had a well toned look overall but not a six pack (a four pack). Abs were quite visible though.
However, I quit the gym (I’m a professional musician; this means sometimes periods of 8-10 hours daily practice plus various concerts) because I lacked the time, and gained around 15-18 lbs.

But this summer I found your site, and really got my motivation back! I’ve worked out 3 times a week with low rep heavy resistance training, all compound excercises, some HIIT there and there. I’ve adopted the eatstopeat lifestyle (24 hour fasts 1 or 2 a week). And now I’m back to where I was….a fat percentage around 13 %. It only took me about 3 months to lose 17 lbs and get a well toned overall look. I now weigh around 172 lbs.

My problem is now the same as it used to be, I’m stuck around the 13%. According to my calculations I would say that I only need to lose around 5-7 lbs of body fat before I get a 10 % bf….

Since I don’t want to mess it up again I’ve bought Craig Ballantyne’s book about Turbulence Training (used it for a week since I read your blog on it). This means resistance training and HIIT training 3 times a week.
I truly believe that diet is the single most important thing in achieving a lean look and a good health, and I eat healthy. I eat the occassional pizza, chocolate bar, 2-3 beers…. not every week, but once in a while…

My question is… Am I doing it right? Do you have any recommendations for getting the last few lbs of stubborn fat off? From my perspective I’m doing what I should, but I’d really like your ideas on it…

Thanks!

admin November 15, 2008 at 3:43 am

Methuselah,

Craig is very down to earth and knows his stuff. His program has helped many time-challenged people get in shape. I am implementing a few of his strategies to help me get workouts done in the tiny gym in my apartment (on days where I’m too busy to go to LA Fitness).

Caleb,

His big contribution is really cutting the time down to get in superb shape. He doesn’t even spend much time in the gym and is pretty darn ripped. I’d guess that he’s between 6-8% body fat in that picture.

joe,

Drop all flat bench stuff lifts for a while. I spent two years doing nothing but inclines for chest and it helped tremendously. Even now I only do flat bench maybe 3-4 months out of the year. Mix up the angles a bit as well. I like to go on on incline bench and do incline dumbbell presses starting from a steep angle and working my way down each set.

Helder,

I really felt the need to take the time to let people know that this isn’t just a circuit training routine. I made a false assumption about Turbulence Training…it is actually very innovative.

Yavor,

I’m glad you are going to talk about TT on your blog as well. Craig deserves all the exposure he gets…he’s a stand-up guy with a great program.

Tom,

I’m not quite that time challenged, but close. I run a men’s suit store that requires 60 hours per week. I maintain this blog and I’m behind-the-scenes on a few other sites. I’ll drop the “regular” job soon…this online stuff is way more fun!

AJ,

You are doing everything right. You are probably going to be stuck at that weight for a while…let your body adapt to that new weight. In a month or two, dedicate 4-6 weeks of eating really clean…it will probably only take a month, but no beer or candy for 30 days. Just get it over with and get lean…at that point, you can maintain that low body fat percentage eating the way you are eating now. Every 6 months, you may need to tighten up the diet for a week or two. This is kind of how I do it throughout the year. Just never let yourself get 5 pounds above your ideal lean weight and you will be good.

Rusty

joe November 15, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Thanks for the tip Rusty 🙂 One more quick question, should I train to failure for a few months just to build up muscle in that area, or will just going for myofibril hypertrophy over a course of a couple of years be good?

AJ November 17, 2008 at 3:33 am

Thanks for the advice, I’ll give it a try!

mikey November 21, 2008 at 1:07 am

hey joe. I’m not a pro trainer or anything but i read in a body building mag that the single most effective chest building exercise is actually the DECLINE bench press. This has been scientifically proven to achieve the most muscle fibre involvement and works the entire chest. Like me you may not want to be the size of a mack truck, but those guys are at the cutting edge of physiological know how… worth listening to. Maybe this helps. Aufwiedersehen dude.

mikey November 21, 2008 at 1:12 am

hey just saw rusty’s post… ok didint mean to detract frrom that. you know what works for you. thats cool. Me im doinf jason stathams workout funnily enuff its very similar.

Matt p December 8, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Ok, run down…I am just now getting back in the gym after being incognito since getting out of the Marines in 02. When I got out I weighed in at 180lbs with around a 7% BMI at 5’11″…I never ever looked huge cause I really pack on dense muscle when I work out hard.

I have been working out again for the last 2 months and am getting really depressed about it. Over the last 6 years I barely worked out and am down to 149 lbs but still with a low BMI. I am a true hard gainer. I went to bootcamp at 130 and 13 weeks later came out at 171…unfortunately I no longer have the time to train the way I did then.

What would be a good routine for me to do that will get me back in shape for my backcountry mountaineering trips and mountain biking. I’d really like to get back to around 170-175 but still have time for my 9 month old daughter (single father) and work?

Matt p December 8, 2008 at 8:48 pm

One lats thing to mention…I had a 3rd degree seperation to my right shoulder 2 years ago and a 2nd degree a year ago to my left. So both are very weak compared to what they used to be….hence why I am even more of a hard gainer than ever

shane January 20, 2009 at 11:50 am

hi rusty great site i have one or to questions i need answered first of all im 29yo im 6ft 2 and i weigh 203 pounds i have started in the the gym and i was wondering will the HIIT program drop the body fat from my abdominal area and what diet would you recommend i use to get the best results from the HIIT program

admin January 20, 2009 at 7:28 pm

shane,

Your body loses body fat all over the body when you drop body fat. What you need to do is focus on losing body fat with HIIT, until your abs look as lean as you desire. As far as diet goes, I follow Eat Stop Eat. Go to the website and check it out…it is an outstanding ebook.

Rusty

neil January 26, 2009 at 9:38 am

i want to have some circuit program for strength and endurance im a fitness instructor here in the philippines. thanks and more power….

Cody March 12, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I just have a quick question. When i do a HIIT routine i always get confused for how long i should walk in between intervals. Is it the same time as the sprint or long or shorter? Thank you, love the site.

J. Kyle Howard May 1, 2009 at 2:21 pm

This site is a godsend. I have been following the advice of the masses and even handing out that advice as well as a personal trainer. Here is my dilemma. I find the article of insulin to be true. I developed diabetes symptom and have been put on insulin. My weight has gone up to over 40 pounds and I work out at least 4 times a day. I am trying to counterbalance my insulin intake and I think that the eat dont eat program may do the trick.

I will keep you posted. I am almost at 300 pounds. I am solid but I need to lose about 40 pounds to be at my best.

Denmark May 14, 2009 at 6:05 am

Hey Rusty,

Nice site… I find lots of your articles good to read.

Anyway, I have been doing a full body circut program for a couple of weeks now.
I start with 10min warm-up on the treadmill (2min walking, 3min sprint, 5min jog) then I do the full body circut, 16 different machines, 15reps and I do this 3 times, no brakes or stopping and aim to be done with the lifting in 45min to an hour. Once done, I hit the treadmill for 15min where I mix jogging and sprinting.
I do this every other day and on “off” days I usually go for a 2 mile run, use 20 min on my boxing bag.. in other words I try to get in aprox 20-30 min activity where I am moving and sweating.

I am curious about your opinion on this workout. I got it from a trainer, but lots of people I talk to say it’s not going to help.

I weigh 187pounds (not sure body fat %) and am 6ft tall. My goal is to loose about 10-15pounds.

Please let me know what you think.

Thx – All the best from Denmark

Denmark May 14, 2009 at 8:21 am

I just want to add, when I say that I have been told my workout is not going to work, obviously it is going to work, but I have been told there are better ways for a person with my body size to either, loose weight or fill out my body in ordre to look fit.

Please also note, during my lifting rutine, through-out the 16 different excirsizes, I swich upperbody, lowerbody as well as swiching between reverse muscle groups. (fx. abbductors, biceps, adductors, triceps)

Looking forward to your reply! 🙂

William K.Mangino June 28, 2009 at 1:40 am

If you really want to lose weight fast and have some beach-worthy body that you could show off, you might want to try some intense training to have a much better looking physique. You can achieve this and more by engaging in Turbulence Training as developed by Craig Ballantyne.

Darren July 12, 2009 at 7:35 am

Hi everyone

I’ve done enough research into Craig Ballantyne’s TT program, and I’ll definitely buy it. What I’m not sure about is the need for an upgrade to the deluxe version, as I don’t intend to aim for superhumandom once I achieve my target weight.

I keep things simple when it comes to this stuff. My needs are straightforward: lose 50lbs from my current 207lbs so that I can get back to enjoying the 3 or 4 sports I regularly play. I don’t need huge muscle mass, I just need to be lean, to maximise by agility and mobility.

Given the high fat loss involved I’m reckoning on 6 months of hard graft to get down to my target weight, if we assume an avg 2lbs-per-week fat loss rate. My worry is that the TT basic version really caters for shorter periods, and that I’ll start to plateau after around 12 weeks due to the lack of exercise variety (the TT concept revolves around new exrecise routines every 4 weeks or so).

Opinions please: basic or deluxe?

Thanks a span
Darren

Bret January 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Hi, Rusty!

I have a quick question. I recently just read some of your old posts on Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training and found them particularly interesting. What really caught my eye was the concept of non-competing super sets. You see, I’ve been spending at LEAST an hour and a half at the gym recently doing each of the two workouts that you’ve outlined on your site.

Here’s what my workout currently looks like:

Day 1: Back, Chest Abs

5×5 Incline Dumbbell Press
5×5 Inline Machine Press

6×5 Chin-Ups
4×5 One arm Dumbbell Row

Right Side, Left Side, Normal and exercise ball planks for 80 sec. each

Stubborn Fat Protocol (15 min. HIIT and 25 min. Steady State Cardio)

Day 2: Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps

5×5 Standing Barbell Military Press
5×5 Hammer Strength Shoulder Press

5×5 Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls
5×5 Hammer Strength Preacher Curls

5×5 Weighted Dips
5×5 Seated Tricep extension

1-2 sets of planks

Stubborn Fat Protocol

I alternate Day 1 and Day 2 for a total of 4 workouts per week. I am currently following Eat Stop Eat and am a little over 6 feet and weigh 183 lbs and am most likely around 12% bodyfat (just in case you need this information to answer my question).

SO HERE’S THE QUESTION!

Can I utilize the concept of non-competing super sets to drastically cut the amount of time I spend in the gym if my goal is to generate maximal contractions on each and every set/rep for muscle density and strength?

Thank you for your time and patience! I’m a HUGE fan of your site!

Sincerely,

Bret

fitness bootcamp February 18, 2010 at 7:23 am

Ok I just downloaded the free weight loss program from Craig’s Turbulance Training site. I’ll start from today. I need to lose about 30 lbs so I hope it works 🙂 And yes, I have started eating healthy as well so lets see. I have my fingers cossed.

On another note, has anyone tried P90X workouts?

maria March 30, 2010 at 11:10 am

The techniques in turbulence training may help you get fit and work if you use them properly, but the rigorous nature of the workouts may not be good for everyone.

Most Comfortable Shoes September 29, 2010 at 5:42 am

Rusty, another great article. Your guidance and client respect is evident in the regular posts and positive comments.

Enneagram Coaching December 27, 2010 at 6:26 am

Hi,thanks for sharing the information regarding to tarbulence training .Really it is very useful in reducing the fat.Thanks a lot again for sharing the information here…

Trying January 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm

The HIIT workouts are the best. I can’t believe how tired I was when I first started, but it’s really starting to show results! Thanks for highlighting some of the ins and outs of it too.

Charlot January 5, 2011 at 9:41 am

Thanks for the advice about Turbulence Training Review, Exercise is The Best to reduce fat on our body and it is working.

ged March 9, 2011 at 1:48 am

It’s good that you’re spreading the word in other projects, go for it with huge success Rusty, i’m sure everyone will keep following this blog and your other projects.

regenerect reviews March 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Agreed Ged, I have been following Rusty for a while, such great guidance. In a world FULL of supplements and fitness routines its nice to gain some direction.

Reese - Swiss Ball March 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Hmm…. no doubt the guy in the pic is ripped but I think one cannot solely focus on HIIT to get those abs. He/she must also have a decent diet and balanced weight training routine.

Wesley March 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm

A lot of these HIIT are great for me because I need exercise programs that I can do while I’m traveling for business. In addition, I’m interested in learning more about the strength component of Turbulence Training.

The hardest part for me in my battle of the bulge is food! When I’m on the road, this is a real challenge. Any tips on how to eat better when I’m living out of a hotel room?

Daniel April 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Nice, after traveling a lot and beeing on a reisen malta trip for the last month I gained a lot of weight from the maltese food. I will do some of the exercises so I look like the guy on the picture again.

Regenerect May 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I just want to vouch for Turbulence Training. I’ve had nothing but great results by following the training program. It’s immediate and you feel freaking great in a very short time.

Cheap Britney Spears Tickets August 15, 2011 at 1:24 am

You have done really nice job. There are many people searching about that now they will find enough sources by your tips.

infiniti treadmill December 3, 2013 at 10:49 pm

This treadmjill is famous for offering lots of workouts via iFit.
Its speed iis 1-16 km/h with increments from 0.1 km/h.
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