I’ve used various tools in my quest to become better over the years. I’ve tried and kept many natural health principle’s as well as used many exercise programs to build muscle and burn fat.
I’ve done traditional bodybuilder exercises, walked, done endless cardio and implemented High Intensity Interval Training. I’ve tried running and I’ve done a few different boot camps in recent years.
My guest for this interview is the creator of what I like to think of as the simplest yet most effective method to end hours of cardio and use your very own body weight to build muscle and burn fat at the same time.
Craig Ballantyne is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and contributor to Men’s Health Magazine. He’s on the Inside Fitness training advisory board as well as Oxygen magazine training advisory board and has a background as a personal trainer in the Toronto Canada area.
Craig is the creator of Turbulence Training and I’m glad to have him here today to discuss his program and how it can help you achieve your ultimate physique.
Part 1 – What Is Turbulence Training?
Craig – Thank you for taking the time to talk about one of the most misunderstood parts of fitness – cardio.
During my weight loss journey, I’ve used various methods of cardio including walking, running, Taekwondo, boot camps and stair running. I’ve done long slow cardio on a treadmill and high intensity interval training.
Personally – I like to be time effective and use the method that will get me the best results in the least amount of time. I like to be time effective and I’m sure most people today would agree with me.
I fully approve Turbulence Training and what it can offer for anyone – men or women.
How would you describe your Turbulence Training program in a few words?
Turbulence Training is a fat burning workout system built for men and women that don’t have a lot of time, and who generally exercise in a home gym with minimal equipment.
The traditional TT workouts go like this…
– This takes about 3-5 minutes and replaces the traditional “5
minutes on the treadmill” which I find inefficient and irrelevant.
Then we move to…
Strength Training Supersets
– This takes 20 minutes, and we’ll pair “non-competing” exercises together in the supersets. Often this means upper and lower body exercises, or pushing and pulling exercises. Non-competing supersets allow us to get more work done than traditional supersets.
We most often use dumbbell and bodyweight exercises for our strength training segments, and can easily customize this for men or women, building muscle or burning fat.
– Finally, we finish with 10-20 minutes of interval training. We
use traditional cardio machines, kettlebells, and bodyweight
circuits at this time. Fast, fun, and effective.
So the workouts can be done at home, with minimal equipment (basic stuff plus bodyweight) and done in 35 to 45 minutes. Very nice.
You mention that it’s a fat burning / strength building program for people without enough time. Is it just for overweight individuals?
What sort of person would want to use Turbulence Training?
The program was designed for busy men and women, typical Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazine readers, who don’t have a lot of time or a lot of days per week to workout.
The program works really well for people who have depended on long, slow, boring cardio for weight loss in the past.
It doesn’t matter if people want to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, Turbulence Training has a program for their fitness level.
There are 10 weeks of beginner and intermediate programs to bring the sedentary, overweight individual up to a better fitness level, and then the rest of the programs are actually advanced.
Everyone would find them tough, because they use total body resistance training exercises, including some of the toughest bodyweight exercises possible.
And there’s lots of variety in there as well, so people won’t get bored. Any man or woman looking for a new challenge will get what they want with Turbulence Training.
Good to know.
I find that with a lot of pre-designed “fitness programs”, the user is left having to develop his own after doing all the options available in the book or video.
Does the TT program ever run out of exercises to do / routines to follow?
We start off with 10 weeks of beginner programs, then 20 weeks of advanced programs. Plus, there are another 12-20 weeks of bonus workouts included.
And finally, there is a 3 month bonus membership to my member’s area, and I create a new workout every month for members. So the pre-designed programs will keep someone busy for well more than half a year.
But the key is, they learn to understand how to use challenging bodyweight exercises (because there are just so many of them) and dumbell exercises and lose the long, slow boring cardio addiction.
TT clients learn how to get their workouts done faster, and then have more time to do fun things in their life, such as spend more time with their family.
Once they understand the TT system, they can insert exercises into the TT template to create their own workouts.
The only downside is that its human nature for us, including me, to pick exercises we like over the exercises we need. That’s why even I like to use programs created by another trainer – so that I don’t go easy on myself.
I agree about getting something designed by a trainer. I did standard bodybuilding exercises for over 10 years and then dated a personal trainer. I got such fabulous results from the programs she created for me and got gains I had not gotten in the previous 10 years.
There’s just something about hiring a professional, you know?
I really like the fact that there are so many workouts in your package and that I’m never left having to spend time creating my own routine.
Craig, many readers might be just starting on their journey into health and fitness and may not know some of the words we’re using.
What is interval training and what is the research behind how and why it works so well for burning fat?
Yeah, sorry for confusing people with the terms…
So interval training is a “form” of cardio, where you go through alternating periods of hard work followed by recovery periods.
The hard work is harder than normal cardio, and the recovery periods are, in my opinion, best done at a warm-up/cool-down pace.
Interval training can be done at a variety of intensities and durations.
For example, competitive distance runners might train with aerobic intervals, lasting 2-5 minutes, done at a pace they could maintain for 10 minutes. And then they’d recovery for an equal length of time, and repeat for 6-10 intervals.
But that’s generally not the type of interval training I do with people.
For fat loss, we use intervals of 15-60 seconds, done at a “near sprint” level of intensity. And followed by a recovery interval of 1-4 times the length of the work interval.
NOTE: Intervals can be done on a bike, treadmill, elliptical, crosstrainer, rowing machine, or done outside, or done swimming, or even with “strongman” type of events.
Recent research from Australia compared interval training to slow cardio in young women over 12 or 15 weeks, I forget. (If you google “Steve Boucher + intervals” you can read more about the study).
One group did intervals (8 seconds followed by 12 seconds recovery for 20 minutes) 3 times per week.
The other group did 40 minutes of regular cardio.
The interval group lost belly fat, the cardio group nothing.
In my workouts, I generally keep it basic…
We use 30-60 second intervals followed by 60-90 seconds of recovery. Do that 6 times, and you’re done.
Last thing, if you don’t have a cardio machine at home, you could substitute bodyweight circuits in place of intervals. I find you get similar results.
Go to youtube, type in Turbulence training or Craig Ballantyne, and you’ll my videos, including an interval training video and a bodyweight circuit video.
You’re a personal trainer right? or have a personal training background?
Yes, I went from strength coach to trainer, but do all of my work with online clients right now. It might change, but I like being able to help more people all over the world with the power of the Internet.
I started doing interval training a few years ago when I learned that it can increase fat burning by as much as 300%. I find that it gets me in and out of the gym faster with better results.
If you’re not familiar with Interval Training, make sure you get Craigs book and find out the how and why’s of it.
Is there any downside to doing this type of intense cardio long term? Should interval training be balanced with other types of cardio or can it be sustained?
No, no downside.
I want to back-track a bit so as to not scare everyone away from interval training because it sounds intimidating.
First, we should understand that there is “interval training” and then there is “high-intensity interval training”.
Beginners can do interval training, but need some time to build their fitness before they do “high intensity interval training”.
So for a beginner who regularly walks at 3.5 mph on the treadmill for 30 minutes, their interval training workout would involve work intervals of 3.8mph followed by recovery intervals at 3.0 mph. Or they could do the classic jog-walk intervals that a beginner jogger uses.
Anyways, different types of interval training can be done by all fitness levels, and there’s no reason not to do it.
If your knees are too sore for the treadmill, there is always the elliptical or bike or swimming or rowing.
I truly believe you can burn fat, get fit, and improve your health with interval training only, and quite possibly never have to do regular cardio again.
After all, I also believe that the majority of weight and health problems are nutrition-related, not cardio-related.
When it comes to longevity, if you eat right (getting lots of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and sufficient protein), it probably won’t matter if you do interval training or regular cardio training 3 days per week.
As long as you are getting some “cardio” exercise and at the same time doing resistance training to keep strong and build your bones, you’ll be as healthy as possible.
I might have gotten a little off topic there, but those were some important points to make.
With all that said, my system is built for a busy lifestyle. So you do intervals on workout days, but then I encourage everyone to stay active for at least 30 minutes on off-days.
If you want to do normal cardio, go for it. Want to walk the dog? Play a sport? Chop wood? Garden? All are fine. Just no need for structured workouts on off days at a regular commercial gym. There are plenty of ways to stay active without stepping on a stairmaster.
Not off topic at all Craig and great clarification between HIIT and regular interval training.
Since you brought it up, I’d like to take a brief look at your approach to nutrition before getting back to training.
In reading Turbulence Training, I realized that we both have natural approaches to health. We both drink and recommend green tea and we are both proponents of raw almonds.