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Author : Pavel Tsatsouline | Reviewer: SFUK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Naked Warrior :

Master the Secrets of the Superstrong using bodyweight only

Pavel's at it again. Another high dollar, skinny little tome containing little more than two exercises, (neither of them new) stuffed with ads for his other stuff and seasoned with a liberal sprinkling of Spetsnaz mystique to appeal The Cult of the Chairborn Rangers.

If you were looking for Pavel's take on bodyweight conditioning, a la Scrapper or Ross Enamait, then forgedaboutit. This is Power to the People without barbells. How to get strong using the least amount of exercises possible. And as a theory, it's a mighty good one. We'd all like to get stronger doing as little as possible wouldn't we?

In The Naked Warrior, Tsatsouline substitutes PTTP's deadlift and side press for the one arm pushup and one legged squat - which he renames with the nifty moniker of The Pistol.

Worth splashing your rubles on?

Here are just some of soundbites from the back cover:

"Gain more brute strength in days than you did in years of bodybuilding or calisthenics"

"Discover the martial secrects of instant power generation.."

"Discover the magic of 'GTG' - guaranteed the world's most effective strength routine.

"Be tow-truck strong"

According to the SFUK Guide to Spotting Dodgy Exercise Books™, you should steer clear of anything proclaiming to reveal 'secret training methods' and anything that claims to provide you years worth of results in a few days and exotic 'silver bullet' exercise techniques.

So we're off to a poor start here then.

Tricki Dickski

Remember the king of mail-order bodybuilding courses, Charles Atlas? His genius was to sell The Dream of a muscular physique, with of course the extra benefits of repelling bullies and being a chick-magnet, to spotty arsed American teenagers. The Atlas course worked because it gave rock-solid basic exercises like pushups to newbie trainees. (plus the calorie boost from the copious amounts of milk Atlas prescribed) .When you new to an exercise, of course initial gains roll in quick. Especially if puberty is kicking in at the same time. Hey presto, it worked. (for a while at least).

Pavel's a clever marketeer. You see, one arm pushups and Pistols are a bitch when you start. They are technically tricky rather than rather than excruciatingly challenging strength-wise. For example, try a one legged squat whilst standing on a table with one leg dangling off the edge. Not that difficult is it? It's the balance of the Pistol that makes it such a bugger to do.

*Try this - grab a weight, a 10kg dumbell will do - and try a pistol. You'll probably find that the pistol becomes easier rather then more difficult when holding the weight! The reason? The weight counterbalances the leverage of the protruding leg, so despite having to squat more weight, the exercise is actually easier*

Now Pavel arms the reader with some nice little tips to nail the technique, and all of a sudden, you'd done a Pistol. 'Overnight' your strength has 'doubled' and kudos and commendations roll in for the marvellous Russian. Fitness forums alight with endorsements, cash registers sing. Strength in this case, is indeed technique.

If Pavel had chosen something more difficult strength-wise, for example 15 reps with bodyweight in the Overhead Squat (as detailed by Dan John) - trainees may have taken months or years to hit that target. Results would be far from instant and it's harder to hype long-term hard graft. "Double your strength in 2-3 years" doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Nevertheless, both exercises are excellent, whole body movements - whether you need to read an entire book about them is up to you.

Go Large

One of the first things that strike you when you open the book is the size of the fonts and pictures. Tsatsouline is doing his bit for deforestation all right. The type is huge and often he uses just one or two massive photos per page when you'd get the message without the expediture in surface area. In fact, he could have squeezed this book into something much smaller. But then it would seems less substantial and less value for money wouldn't it? ;)

Talking of large - One legged squats and one arm pushups may be pretty impossible if you are really big. Bodyweight exercises are a lot easier when you are light (like rock climbers) - Tsatsouline is lean and wiry, built like more like Borat (albeit a sfukin strong Borat!), than a powerlifter ;). The Naked Warrior stuff will be easier for those of a similar build.

The Good Stuff

Despite the mickey-mouse font and photo sizes, it's clear that Pavel has been less parsimonious with his information sharing than his Power To The People. (PTTP)

Like all his books, The Naked Warrior is an easy read and not a schlep through 'scientific' graphs and statistics. Much of the ideology is covered in Power To The People, but Pavel does a more thorough job here. Rounding out his theories and filling in some of the frustrating blanks left by PTTP. Like PTTP, much of the book is comprised of cherry-picked quotes to support his theories. This does give the reader plenty of references to chase up on via web search engines.

Both exercises are covered in far more detail than the deadlift & side press in PTTP. It's excellent in this respect, and many of the principals you can take onto other exercises. This is the true value of The Naked Warrior. It's like being taught to fish, rather than being given a plate of cod:)

But like a lasagne, Pavel still insists on padding the meat out with layers of cheese. He lays it on heavy with the Spetsnaz and 'martial arts masters' patter, obviously playing right up to his target audience. Still, the good stuff is well worthwhile. It's food for thought, and like posh restaurants, you don't get a lot for your money, but what you get is most excellent.

Pavel's Principals:

  • Strength is Technique.
  • Grease The Groove* - multiple sets each day, done without going to failure.
  • High Tension.

* Any olympic weightlifting book will tell you this already.

Weights versus Bodyweight

Pavel devotes quite a bit of space to this old argument, and it's the best weights versus bodyweight answer I've ever read. Basically both are good for different things - he explains why in length. Pavel discusses the merits of barbells, dumbells and pops in kettlebells as "the complete martial arts strength and conditioning package". 'Course he sells kettlebells and KB courses too ;)

Door Pullups

This was one of the most useful exercises in the book. Pavel throws it in as a bonus and to also address back training (which one arm pushups and pistols sidestep). 'Invented' by Bill 'Superfoot' Wallace, it's one of those "doh why didn't I think of that" strokes of genius - a cool way of being able to do pullups anywhere with a door.

Summary:

Hmmm, so will you "Gain more brute strength in days than you did in years of bodybuilding or calisthenics" and will it make you "Be tow-truck strong"? Frankly, I doubt it. Certainly not in days. You see, let's say, as the tag line says, that you have been bodybuilding for a few years and you have managed to build up to a deadlift of 400lbs from say a 100lb beginners DL . So to gain 'more brute strength in days than you did in years' means that you would have to add at least another 300lbs. Moving from a 400lb lift to a 700lb lift in days huh?

If all you're after a "bodyweight conditioning" book then have a peek at Ross Enamait's book. If you want to save your money and are just interested in doing one legged squats and one arm pushups then you don't necessarily need this book - you'll find the info on the web and by experimentation. Just knock out a few sets here and there without going to failure and you'll have done the crux of this book.

However, Tsatsouline's The Naked Warrior is best viewed as a framework of training principles from which you can build your personal routines. High tension, no failure, multi-sets, whole body exercises, leverage manipulation - it's all good stuff. Whilst not a must-have, for us terminally geeky exercise nerds, The Naked Warrior is well worth reading.

 


SFUK links:

More Pavel:

Bodyweight Exercises

Training with cables (aka strands or elastic)

Weight Training

Other stuff


External Links

Bodyweight resources:

Bodyweight v Weights:


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