How Was Turbulence Training Created?
By: Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer
Like most folks in the fitness industry, I played a lot of sports when I
was younger. That led to weight training. From there, I realized I wanted to
be a strength coach in professional sports.
I went to school for Kinesiology, which then led to a Master's Degree in
Exercise Physiology. Along the way I studied what made a good NHL Strength
Coach (they had Master's Degrees and were Certified Strength And
Conditioning Specialists - CSCS).
I also started training athletes, along with men and women for fat loss.
In 1998-99, I was but a lowly grad student, studying the effects of
androstenedione (the supplement taken by the mighty baseball player, Mark
McGwire during his record-breaking home run quest in '98).
In my study (which was published in the Canadian Journal of Applied
Physiology for any science nerds like myself out there), we had guys use
the supplement and go through a couple of weight training sessions. By
February of '99 I was stuck in the lab, analyzing the blood samples using
some fancy radio-active isotopes.
And when I say stuck in the lab, I mean STUCK. I'd get there at 7am, and
record my last data point at 11pm. Sixteen hours of mad science. And if I
wasn't there, I was downstairs in the medical library, studying papers on
testosterone and training.
Now coming from a very athletic background, this sedentary lifestyle
didn't sit well with me. But there I was, studing for a degree in Exercise
Physiology and left with no time for exercise.
Or so I thought.
Fortunately, I actually had a 50 minute window once per day of "down-time"
while the lab's gamma-counter analyzed blood samples.
That left me 50 minutes to get to the gym (5 minutes across campus) and get
a workout in the remaining 40 or so minutes. I knew that if I applied my
studies to the workout, I could get maximum results in minimum time.
As a former athlete, I knew that I had to find a way to stay fit and to
avoid the fat gain that comes with working long hours in a sedentary
environment. And I also had to stay true to the high-school bodybuilder I
once was, so there was no way I was willing to sacrifice my muscle to one
of those long-cardio, low protein fat-loss plans that were popular at the
Instead, I had to draw on my academic studies and my experiences working
with athletes as the school's Strength & Conditioning Coach.
I knew that sprint intervals were associated with more fat loss than slow
cardio, and I knew that you could also increase aerobic fitness by doing
sprints (but you can't increase sprint performance by doing aerobic
So clearly, intervals were (and ARE!) superior to long slow cardio.
I had seen first hand the incredible results of sprint intervals in the
summer and fall, as the athletes made huge fitness improvements and shed
winter fat in a short time using my interval programs. I knew that
intervals had to be the next step in the evolution of cardio.
The biggest benefit of intervals? A lot of results in a short amount of
time. I knew that I only had 40 minutes to train, and therefore I could
only spend 15-20 minutes doing intervals.
Now onto the strength training portion of the workouts. I knew that a high-
volume bodybuilding program wasn't going to cut it - I just didn't have
time. But in the past year I had read so many lifting studies, that I knew
exactly what exercises I needed to do to maximize my lifting time in the
Those exercises were standing, multi-muscle, movements such as squats,
presses, rows, and plenty of other standing single-leg exercises. I knew
that those exercises would bring me far more results than those people
sitting on machines would ever achieve.
And I also knew that I had to lift heavier than the average Joe or Jane
Gym-goer lifts. I just knew that doing lighter weights and high-reps wasn't
going to cut it.
And a research study from 2001 later showed that I was right - when women
did 8 reps per set, they had a significantly greater increase in post-
workout metabolism than if they did 15 reps per set.
So I had my plan. Bust my tail over to the gym, through the cold, dreary
Canadian winter afternoon, and do a quick but thorough warmup (specific to
my lifts - none of that 5 minutes on the treadmill waste of time).
Once I got through the warm-up, I did as many sets as I could in the
remainder of the 20 minutes for strength training.
At that point, I knew that supersets were the only way to go if I wanted
to maximize the number of sets I could do...so the non-competing superset of
Turbulence Training was put in place.
By non-competing, I mean that the 2 exercises in the superset don't
interfere with one another. So you can use upper and lower body exercises
together, or pushing and pulling exercises. Just be careful not to use two
grip-intensive exercises together in a superset - otherwise, one exercise
will suffer, if not both.
And then I followed up the strength training with intervals, as I knew
these had to follow the lifting, otherwise it would not be the correct
exercise order. Remember, intervals first leads to premature fatigue. Lift
first, cardio later. Forget that old wives tale about doing cardio first to
burn more fat. That's junk.
You know, I remember the exact day and exact workout that this all came
together into the Turbulence Training program. It hit me as I was
finishing my intervals. I knew I had found something that was like fat loss
Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to put it in a pill. But I've been
able to put it down on paper in all of the TT manuals.
About the Author
Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit www.TurbulenceTraining.com
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