Sunday, May 31, 2009

Max Effort Black Box (MEBB)

This is my version of the highly regarded system created by Mike Rutherford - based on the way it was formatted several months ago.

1st Cycle
Day 1:
Max Effort Upper Body (PULL) - 5x5, 2x3, 3x1
Total Body Movement - 5x5

Day 2:


Day 3:

Max Effort Lower Body - 5x5, 2x3, 3x1
Total Body Movement - 5x5

Day 4:


Day 5:

Max Effort Upper Body (PUSH) - 5x5, 2x3, 3x1
Total Body Movement - 5x5

Day 6:

Corrective Routine, REST Day, or Swim

Day 7:


2nd Cycle

Use the same sequence as Cycle 1
Max Effort Upper & Lower Body - 7x3, 3x1
Total Body Movement - 5x5


3rd Cycle

Use the same sequence as Cycle 1
Max Effort Upper & Lower Body - 10x1
Total Body Movement - 5x5


4th Cycle
Use the same sequence as Cycle 1
Max Effort Upper & Lower Body - 5x5 @ 60% 1RM - Done EXPLOSIVELY
Total Body Movement - 5x5 @ 60% 1RM- Done EXPLOSIVELY


5th-8th Cycle: Repeat - ALL 4 Cycles, but at a higher weight


9th-12th Cycle: Repeat - ALL 4 Cycles, but at a higher weight yet again


Upper Body PUSH Exercises:
  • Dips
  • Press
  • Bench Press
  • Incline Bench Press
Upper Body PUll Exercises:
  • Pull-ups
  • Muscle-ups
Lower Body Exercises:
  • Back Squats
  • Zercher Squats
  • Front Squats
PREFERRED Total Body Exercises:

For Dips:
  • Push Press
  • Push Jerk
For Bench Press/Incline Bench Press:
  • Push Press
  • Push Jerk
For Pull-ups:
  • Power Clean, from the hang position
  • Power Snatch, from the hang position
For Squats:
  • Deadlifts
  • Cleans - from the deck
  • Snatch - from the deck
ALL Total Body Exercises:
  • Clean - from the deck or the hang position
  • Power Clean - from the deck or the hang position
  • Snatch - from the deck or the hang position
  • Power Snatch - from the deck or the hang position
  • Deadlifts
  • Push Press
  • Push Jerk
  • Thrusters
  • Overhead Squat
  • Overhead Reverse Lunge - better suited for ancillary work, not 5x5
  • The Barbell Bear - not the best choice though - better suited for a WOD/MetCon Day, BUT, use a much lighter load than usual - think conditioning, not strength!
WOD/MetCon Routines (Workout Of the Day/Metabolic Conditioning):
  • Crossfit WOD
  • The Fitness Conduit WOD
  • Or one of the routines from my 96 Day Routine
  • Just make sure that the routine makes sense. Examples: if your shoulders are smoked from a Max Effort Upper Body Day, don't choose a routine with too much shoulder work. The day before a Max Effort Lower Body Day you should avoid routines that will smoke the legs. Just use common sense here.
Additional Details:
  • The MAX EFFORT movement is the PRIMARY movement. The Total Body Movement is the secondary movement. As such, the load for the Total Body Movement "may" have to be lighter than it would normally be. Example: If your normal 5x5 weight for a Power Clean is 135lbs, then it may be 125-130lbs on this day
  • The Max Effort Movement is ONE exercise ONLY! - It is MORE than enough!!!
  • Ancillary & Core Work is performed at the end of the routine - the possibilities are endless, just don't overdo it
  • Warm up exercises should be performed as well - a no-brainer
  • It is assumed that you have already ramped up with 5x5 routines, AND that you can perform Oly Lifts with good form before attempting this type of periodization schedule/routine
  • Use the Burgener Warn-up every day, in addition to the Crossfit Warm-up on the really heavy days

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Day 2: MetCon - did Intervals on my bike mixed in with some bodyweight circuits. Nothing fancy, just effective!

Diet was 90% Primal - I did have a beer with dinner. I was going to go out for drinks, but decided against it

Friday, May 29, 2009


I was up at 3am and finally ate at 7:30am. It was nice little fast, and I broke it with a Fage Total Greek Yogurt.

I was at work a long time today, so I had to get another protein bar. I ate half of it with a bunch of cashews as a pre-workout snack (2 hours prior). A ate the other half with more cashews immediately post-workout.

Today was Day 1 of a new routine that is based on the Max Effort Black Box (MEBB), a routine created by Mike Rutherford that blends weight lifting and Crossfit type training. I heard of it last year but never really looked into it until a few weeks ago. I know a few people that have personally used MEBB, and they said it is MUCH better than CF - my co-worker said he looked like one of the 300 when he last did it. MEBB is highly regarded, and I've seen nothing but praise for it thus far.

How/why is it better than CF? Well, CF after all, is for the most part really just "superior cardio" when you get right down to it. I realize that avid dogmatic Crossfitters will have a problem with that statement, but it is what it is. Hey, it's not really a bad thing anyway...unless your goal is to get a lot stronger and bigger. I know a lot of people that follow CF, and most of them had begun losing strength over time. CF originally blamed "diet" on this loss of strength, but they eventually had no choice but accept the fact that it was actually the system itself that was to blame. This became such an issue that CF came out with a new version of their program called Crossfit Strength Bias (CFSB), which essentially adds more Oly Lifts into the mix.

Don't get me wrong - I love Crossfit, and I have always promoted it, but there are a lot of things I have questioned over time. Some of the shit they do is just plan stupid; like doing high amounts of Oly Lifts "For Time", which will only lead to poor form and incorrect movement patterns that will create problems down the road!!! The loss of strength experienced by many is also serves as proof that there are issues. CFSB addresses the strength loss issues to some degree, and I do like CFSB, but, it still pales in comparison to the MEBB from what I can see after looking into it more deeply, and from what I was told. The only thing left is to do it and see what happens, and that is where I am right now.

I will deviate from MEBB ever so slightly based upon a recommendation of my co-worker who went through MEBB as well as official Olympic Weight Training in 2 different schools. Full details on the MEBB here soon. For now, I will leave you with today's Day 1 Routine:
Max Effort Upper Body
  • Weighted Pull-ups: 5x5, 2x3, 3x1
  • Power Clean: 5x5
  • Ancillary work (supporting exercises and core work)
I had a salad and meatballs for an early dinner, after a 1 hour nap

More details later....

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Today was a Rest Day, and diet was dead on Primal all day!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Had my usual cup of coffee, and skipped the second one again. I'm finally back to just 1 per day.

I had a Fage Total Greek yogurt for breakfast, and I snacked on blueberries and cashews pre workout.

I did another MetCon workout today. I did 4 rounds of 500 meter sprints on the Concept II rower, and I did 10 rounds of Dumbbell Bear Complexes. Great workout!

Had a small (low carb) protein drink for recovery, and I am making scallops for lunch.

More details later...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I fasted for 5 hours today. I also worked out in a fasted state, I did a bunch of MetCon work: Rowing, Box Jumps, The Snatch (with just the bar), I then did a little bit of Yoga and stretching.

30 minutes after the workout I had an Omelet with Applewood Smoked Bacon - deelish!!!

For late lunch/early dinner I had a spinach salad with chicken, pecan, strawberries, and raspberry walnut dressing. I was at work longer than expected in the evening, and I was hungry, so I bought a blueberry cheesecake protein bar. More carbs than I would like, but still stayed under 100 grams for the day

Monday, May 25, 2009


What's the best cure for a hangover? A grueling workout!!! 10 Minutes into it I was feeling MUCH better, by the time it was over, the hangover was completely gone

Ok, so I lost count of how many drink I had yesterday. Luckily, I did manage to eat mostly Primal. I also did not get as much sleep as I would have liked, since I had to work today.

After my shift I did 5x5 Push Press. I also did 5 supersets of Pull-ups and Amazing Spiderman Push-ups.

I skipped breakfast, and did not eat much until after my workout. I had a small protein shake immediately after the workout, and then 2 cheeseburgers without rolls, veggies, and a salad for dinner. It was another 98% Primal day. Like I said, I'd jump back in as though the weekend never happened

Sunday, May 24, 2009


5 hours fast this morning, and then I had pistachios and berries.

Today was 5x5 Squats. Also did The Snatch, Overhead Squats, and some ab work, Had a low carb protein shake for recovery.

Going to a Pig Roast/Graduation party today. Many Primal delights to be had, but beer will be in the mix - hey, it's a holiday weekend. Tomorrow, I'll pretend it never happened. Lots of activities to offset it as well - Quoits, Swimming, etc.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


REST Day - still got sun, and a nice walk in, and I stayed busy all day.

Diet was Primal all day...then had a few beers with friends.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Started out with a 4 hour fast. then had a Fage Total Greek Yogurt (the only one I eat - whole milk, unsweetened).

At break, I had mixed nuts and strawberries.

After my shift I did some MetCon (Metabolic Conditioning). I'll call today's insanity MetCon 7. It was 7 rounds of 500 meter sprints on the Concept II Rower - each one to be done in under 2 minutes. There was a 1 minute break between rounds. I have to be honest, that sucked beyond words. Now bear in mind, I can barely walk today as it is, and the rowing just killed. I actually quit after 5 rounds, but I went back over after 2 minutes, sucked it up and finished the last 2 rounds.

That routine was not from Crossfit or any "well-known Trainer", it was right out of the Concept II Manual.

Had a Big Ass Salad w Chicken as my "recovery meal"

For late lunch I had piece of Chicken Parm (almond meal instead of bread crumbs) and a small salad. For dinner I decided to try out some wings from local bar, and they were deelish! And I did not have a beer either, just water.

Another 98% Primal Day in the books - success!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Started off the day with a 3 hour fast, then for breakfast I had Primal Pancakes with toasted pecans & maple flavoring served with fresh strawberries.

As expected, my legs are absolutely destroyed from yesterday's workout. Taking 12 days off is like starting over from day one.
A 1 week break is actually a great idea every now and then - in between phases of training, or at least every 60-90 days. I see so many people in the gym (and online) that never take breaks, and they wonder why they never see any progress. The break allows your muscles to grow, and your joints to get stronger. If you have not taken a break lately, do it soon; your body will thank you!

Today's Upper Body routine was the Push Press 5x5's as the main course. I also complimented the routine with 4 rounds of the following circuit:
  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups (2 speed/2 position, military, spiderman, and amazing spiderman)
  • Supine (hanging) Row
  • Push-ups (2 speed/2 position, military, spiderman, and amazing spiderman)
  • 30 sec rest
After 2 hours soaking up the sun (wow - 2 days in a row!!!), I also got in a 3 mile walk

Other Primal Foods throughout the day:
Fage Total Greek Yogurt, nuts (pecans, cashews, hazelnut) & strawberries,
Big Ass Salad with Chicken, Chicken Parm (with almond meal instead of bread crumbs)

Side note: I cannot remember the last time legs were this sore - probably some time back in early 2008 - I LOVE it!!! - hahaha

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


There was not all that much to report the last week during my break, so I did not post. Boy did I need that break - I feel fantastic!

Well, my rest period ended today!

I jumped right back in with Squats - 5x5's. In addition to rowing and a warmup set, I also ended with an extra set of Pause Squats with a lighter weight. Throughout the day I did a bunch of squatting and deadlifts with clients, so that was what made today the day. I also got a nice long walk in and took advantage of this awesome weather.

I will likely have trouble walking tomorrow...

Oh, and what a surprise, my diet was 100% Primal today, and I plan on being very strict with it like I was the 1st 2 months on the Primal Blueprint, where my results were off the hook!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Mark's Daily Apple - site completely updated. Many new features and easier access to all of the information.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Today is the 4th day of my Extended Rest Phase. I have been getting some work in, such as the Advanced Corrective Routine, Stretching, Foam Rolling, and some Bike Rides. Yoga is also planned and light cardio (walking and rowing) will also be in the rotation.

As expected, my diet has been less than stellar during this rest phase, but overall I'd say about 80% Primal, so not too bad.

I plan on resting up for 10-14 days, and then I will start back up with a week of moderate exercise to ease back in, then the insanity will commence, and my diet will be strict!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


This is me @ 165lbs - down 50lbs of bodyfat with 7lbs of extra muscle (approx) as compared to 12/27/08

Yes, the Primal Blueprint works! Yes, my routine works!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

05/06/09 - 05/07/09

2 more days of eating completely PRIMAL in the books! Tons of veggies, nuts, berries and lean protein each day.

Got a 8-10 mile bike ride in yesterday, and a solid MetCon workout in today. Winding down my 4 month routine, and getting ready for 7-10 days of static deconditioning and corrective exercises. During this time I will create another periodization schedule for when I start back up.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Today was a fantastic Total Body Workout, and I got to try out a new exercise I was shown by a fellow trainer.

I warmed up on the Concept II Rower, and then I did the Snatch (from the hang position) - 7 sets of 5. I started with the bar and ended up with 100lbs.

I then did Overhead Squats - 4 sets of 6 with 85lbs

I then moved on to the new exercise. It is not really named, so I would have called it the Tom Z's Dumbbell Squat Complex. Looking at my notes now, I realize I did it incorrectly, but my version was every bit as cool and demanding, if not more so - I'll still give him credit for it. This is how I performed it:
  1. Start with 2 Dumbbells and clean them (I used 25lb DB's for this)
  2. Lower down into the deep squat position, but keep the DB in the right hand at the same height as you lower down. resulting in a reverse one-handed deep overhead squat.
  3. Stand back up while keeping the DB in the right hand at the same height
  4. Repeat the previous 2 steps with the left hand
  5. Lower down into into the squat and keep both DB's at the same height, resulting in reverse overhead squat
  6. Stand back up keeping the DB's at the same height
  7. Lower down into the deep squat positions
  8. Do the Sots Press x 5 reps: Presses from the bottom of the deep squat position
  9. Stand up
  10. Repeat steps 7, 8 & 9
I did 5 sets of this sequence. It was very difficult, but I loved it!

[EDIT] This routine was reamed "Dominion of Men" by Tom - I like it

Overhead Squats are regarded as the best core strength exercise known to man. They are also essential if you plan plan on doing the Snatch. Using DB's adds another level of complexity, and using them in the manner described above adds yet another level of complexity. Having said that, I would not recommend this routine to anyone that cannot a) do a proper deep squat, or b) cannot do a proper overhead squat. Even those that can do both, I would suggest lighter weight to start out.

Ok, off my soapbox...I then did 4 sets of Metabolic Pairings with pullups x 6 and manmakers x 5 with 30lb DB's

I finished up with 3 supersets of Bicep Curls and Tricep Pushdowns - 8 reps with 90lbs and 140lbs respectively.

Diet is dead on Primal so far today, and there is no way I am going to deviate from it after putting that much hard work!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Ah, finally a 95% Primal Day! (everything except the morning coffee). Just had a fantastic Roast Beef and asparagus for dinner - yummy!

Today was a rest day, but I got is some cardio

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I got in a great Upper Body routine today, which is good considering I went out drinking last night for the 1st time in 3 weeks. As such, my diet yesterday absolutely sucked! Today was 90% Primal, so I feel pretty good about it.

Overall, I am still very disappointed with myself for allowing my diet to slip. I was so close to attaining my goal, but I have not been eating well since I got the flu 4 weeks ago, so I feel like I'm getting fatter. I hate that I struggle with emotional eating.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


The last 3 days were soooo long and and filled with work/activities that I have had no time to workout. 04/29/09 was a scheduled rest day, and 04/30/09 I was still incredibly sore from the previous 2 workouts anyway. 05/01/09 I was just too spent and too busy to get one in.

Over the last 3 days, my diet has been less than stellar as a result - only 70% Primal at best.

I'm in the middle of a 18 day stretch of work without time off.

Ok, so I managed to blast Legs today: Pause Squats, Squats, Deadlifts, and I threw in a bunch of Snatches as well