What Is R.E.A.L. Functional Training?
By Tyler Bramlett
You’re currently at LeanHybridMuscle.com, which tells me one thing…
You want to build dense muscle that looks as good as it performs! And today I wanna share with you a few ways you can accelerate your results even further by doing what I call R.E.A.L. Functional Training.
Before I get into what R.E.A.L. Functional Training really is let me tell you what it isn’t…
You see, I was hanging with a friend in Florida earlier this year when he asked me about the programs I create for my tribe. I began talking about all the things I integrate into my training and kept repeating the word, “functional” over and over.
At one point I stopped and saw the look on his face that said to me, what the heck do you mean by functional?
Most people when they hear functional training think about those lame exercises done with a pink band while standing on a half inflated disc. This is not what I am referring to at all!!
To me functional training doesn’t mean doing ridiculous movements with unpredictable surfaces at relatively low intensities. It means strengthening your body to move gracefully through a full range of motion while using the most basic movement patterns.
This is how I train my clients to build lean, strong muscles that look as good as they perform and the rest of this article is dedicated to teaching you how to use R.E.A.L. Functional Training in your workouts.
Here’s how I now define R.E.A.L. Functional Training:
Executed With Perfect Form
At A High Intensity
Leaving You With A Body That Looks As Good As It Performs
I’m gonna break down each component of this system and let you know exactly how you can apply this in your training to build lean strong muscles that look good and perform even better. Let’s get started…
Performing realistic movements means not doing things just for the sake of making them more and more ridiculous. Doing a weighted barbell overhead squat while standing on a swiss ball doesn’t exactly seem like a realistic movement to me.
Think back to the time when you were standing on an inflatable sphere holding a heavy weight overhead in the bottom of a squat…
Ohhh… That’s right… You can’t… Because it will never happen!!
Now on the other hand, if you avoid learning how to do a perfect overhead squat, you may leave yourself vulnerable to injuries if the workout or task demands stability, mobility and strength in your shoulders, spine, hips and ankles.
So to me, you have to be judicial. You have to ask yourself is this exercise benefiting me as a whole or just ridiculous. Is the movement you are practicing realistic or ridiculous?
Here are just a few realistic movements you should be practicing in your workouts to build functional lean muscle; handstands, one arm dumbbell exercises, one leg squats and deadlifts, gymnastic ring work, strongman training, sandbag lifting and more…
Here are the movements I see as ridiculous and a total waste of time; anything done with a pink band (unless instructed by an intelligent physical therapist), anything that combines an unstable surface with and unstable object (like kneeling swiss ball kettlebell bottoms up presses), anything that you’ve never seen anyone else do with a relatively high intensity or load (if someone out there doesn’t go heavy don’t be the first, otherwise it might be your last lift) and more…
So train realistic, not ridiculous.
Executed With Perfect Form
Everyone these days has something to say about form. Some camps tweak and tweak over and over again trying to get everything perfect before ever adding load. Other communities believe that if you body can move into a range of motion you should strengthen it.
The problem is that they are both right. You do need to always strive toward having perfect form on all of your movements. And a better way to say form is skill or technique. The best lifters of all time were all focused on the skill of their movements. At the highest levels it’s the only way (barring a trip to the pharmacist) to increase your performance. But many people acquire paralysis by analysis when trying to master form.
Most world-class athletes and world-class movers didn’t start out that way. You see, you can really only change one or two habits at the same time. And by accepting this limitation we can realize that you can progress in terms of movement capacity (i.e. reps, sets and weight) as well as movement competency (i.e. technique of a movement) at the same time.
So where does this leave you? You should focus on increasing the reps, sets, weight or volume as well as work on your technical skill of each exercise to get the best results possible.
As for the “bad form is OK” camp. I believe that if you get your form to OK levels, you will be safe to increase intensity without the risk of injury and over time you can boos your technique to levels that equate to mastery!
At A High Intensity
This is where I see the “functional” training wagon wheels fall right off…
We can all agree that your body adapts to the stresses we put on it. Right? Let’s take these 2 scenarios…
Imagine if you deadlifted heavy every week for a couple years, with good form, your body will get really good at deadlifting heavy. Right?
Now imagine if for the same 2 years all you did was rep out on the deadlift with bright orange dumbbells while standing on an inflatable disc while your friend pulls on your torso with a pink band. You will probably get good at repping out on the deadlift with bright orange dumbbells while standing on an inflatable disc while your friend pulls on your torso with a pink band. Right?
Now imagine whose strength would carry over more?
Would the person who regularly lifts 4 or 500lbs off the ground be able to perform the orange dumbbell, air disc, band pulled deadlift?
I would say with a week or so of practice he would be considering this exercise an absolute joke. Right?
So, what about the guy who rips at the orange dumbbell, air disc, band pulled deadlift, how long would it take him to learn how to pull 4 or 500lbs?
Well, I would wager to say that it would take him many years if he was ever able to get there without getting distracted by the latest greatest “functional” movement that solves all your problems.
Here’s my point on this…
If you can’t perform the exercise at a high intensity (meaning add weight, volume, density, etc.) then it’s likely not a R.E.A.L. Functional Training exercise.
Ditch the Barbie dumbbells and learn how to move massive loads on one of the realistic movements listed above.
Leaving You With A Body That Looks As Good As It Performs
Let’s face it, the reason why you’ve read this far is because you catch what I’m throwing, you are like me in that you think outside the box and you probably enjoy the thought of spitting in the mainstream “fitness” industries face and training hard. But, you still wanna look good naked, right?
Well here’s the good news… Looking good in front of the mirror is a direct reflection of the quality of the muscle that you build. Sure, you can go out there and kill it on volume for your biceps and they will get bigger. But developing a dense, lean body involves more then chasing the pump. It requires dedication, strength, and fortitude and for you to use your brain to discover the best programs that work for you.
By using the principals of R.E.A.L. Functional Training you will develop a world-class body that looks good and performs even better!
Now get out there and do some R.E.A.L. Functional Training!!!
by: Nick Nilsson
Building muscle and strength doesn’t have to be complicated! In fact, it can be downright “paint by numbers” simple.
And the best “simple” method I’ve found for building muscle and strength like clockwork is “Density Training.”
There are a variety of different density training frameworks that have been popularized by many different trainers, but at its simplest, density training is basically making your body do more work in the same (or less) time.
The idea is to force progressive overload on your muscles in a very strategic and very predictable way.
Now granted, there’s nothing flashy about this style of training…you’re not going to impress anybody at the gym by doing density training. This style of training is all about building a base of strength and mass over time…and THAT is the kind of mass and strength that STICKS.
So let’s get right into my favorite style of density training that I call Time-Volume Training.
T/V Training is simple…and EXTREMELY effective.
It’s going to take literally ALL the guesswork out of your training. You’ll know exactly what weight to use, how long to rest and when to increase the weight to achieve that progressive overload.
T/V Training is based on blocks of time…15 minutes for large muscle groups like back, chest and thighs…7 ½ minutes for smaller parts like biceps, triceps, calves, hamstrings and shoulders.
The first time you do this type of training, select one exercise and select a weight you could do a normal set with for 10 to 12 reps. The beauty of this system is, it doesn’t matter if you screw up the weight on the first workout…it will autocorrect itself quickly.
Set your timer for 15 minutes (or keep track on a clock – I HIGHLY recommend a timer, though).
Now you’re going to see exactly how simple and elegant Time-Volume Training is…
Perform 3 reps of that exercise and stop. Now rest 10 seconds.
Perform 3 MORE reps of that exercise and stop. Rest 10 seconds.
Repeat your 3 rep sets on 10 seconds rest until you can no longer get 3 reps.
When you hit this point, you will then start taking 20 SECONDS rest in between sets. Continue with your 3 rep sets from there, now resting 20 seconds in between sets.
You may start seeing a pattern developing here…
If you get to the point where you can no longer get 3 reps on 20 seconds rest, increase to 30 seconds rest and keep going. Then 40 seconds rest, etc.
Continue this pattern until your 15 minutes are up (7 ½ if you’re doing a smaller bodypart).
This system forces you to “front load” your work, doing the majority of your sets when you’re fresher and stronger. Then, as you fatigue, it spaces out the sets more, allowing you to continue adding on the training volume without trashing your nervous system.
When to Increase The Weight
Determining when to increase weight is something that a lot of trainers struggle with, especially those interested in building maximum strength. The temptation is always there to use more and more weight…and do it too soon.
This will set you back faster than just about anything.
With T/V Training, it’s simple…if you were able to make it 1/3 of the way through that block of time (5 minutes) keeping to 10 seconds rest, when you perform your next workout, increase the weight by about 10%.
If you didn’t make it 1/3 of the way through and had to increase your rest before then, stay at the same weight until you CAN make it 1/3 of the way through.
Very simple. Very effective.
It’s literally a pass/fail standard to determine when you can increase the weight. There are no charts or tables or 1 RM calculations to worry about. You just perform the exercise blocks and strive to do more work in that same amount of time.
THIS is what forces continuous adaptation in the body, and it will literally force your body to build muscle and strength in a very predictable fashion.
What Exercises To Use
I highly recommend sticking to the basics for this style of training…heavy compound exercises like squats, front squats, bench press, deadlifts, chin-ups, shoulder presses, close grip bench press, barbell curls, stiff-legged deadlifts, etc.
You want to target maximum muscle fibers when you’re doing this training and isolation exercises aren’t going to cut it.
I definitely recommend using the same exercises on a weekly basis rather than including a lot of variety. You want your body to know exactly what it has to adapt to and jumping around to a lot of different exercises won’t accomplish this.
Choose two exercises for each bodypart and work them for 4 to 6 weeks straight. You will be AMAZED at the results this limited approach will give you.
I like to use a very simple 4 day training split with T/V Training: 2 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off.
This is just a suggestion, and you can absolutely come up with your own split.
On Day 1, do a 15 minute block each of chest and back, then a 7 ½ minute block of biceps and one of triceps. This gives you 45 minutes total training time (you can take a few minutes rest in between T/V blocks of each bodypart).
On Day 2, do a 15 minute block for thighs, then a 7 ½ minute block for shoulders, hamstrings and calves. This will give you 37 ½ minutes of training time, allowing you some room for core training and/or forearm and grip work.
Day 3 is off.
Day 4, repeat the structure of Day 1, using different exercises for each bodypart.
Day 5, repeat Day 2, using different exercises again.
Follow this split for 4 to 6 weeks and you will really see the power of Density Training and progressive overload at work.
When you use Time-Volume Training, you will build muscle and strength like clockwork, you won’t need to use near-maximal weights to build mass and strength (which will save your nervous system), and you will substantially improve your exercise form (you’ll be getting a LOT of practice with moderate weight using perfect form).
And If you’re coming off a very heavy cycle and your body needs a break from it, this is absolutely the style of training you need to use.
If you’re interested in a full program designed around Time-Volume Training, I would definitely recommend checking out my Mad Scientist Muscle program.
It uses Time-Volume Training, along with the proven training principles of Accumulation and Intensification, to build muscle and strength FAST.
In addition, Mad Scientist Muscle uses targeted training to attack the four major physiological attributes in your body that you can CHANGE to better set the stage for muscle growth…your connective tissue, your circulatory system, your nervous system efficiency and your muscle fascia.
I you want to win the unavoidable pull up contest at the beach and win the crown of Alpha Male watch this Yo Elliott video below to find out how you can do more chin ups.
Here’s a great question that was sent to me about body weight exercises.
Q. Greeting from Italy. I have a simple yet complicated problem.
I’ll try being as brief and comprehensive as possible. I’m 23 yrs old. I do my Cardio religiously 3-4 times a week. I don’t have access to a gym. Actually I love freehand exercises (without weights like push up/ pull ups). My back when seen in the mirror shows my Shoulder blades sticking out.. feel like a famished boy.
Is there any way I can build the back specifically making those shoulder blades disappear in the back… I wanna a CLEAN neat back.
I used to do pull ups both with palms facing me and more-than shoulder span pull’ups with the bar ending in the front to the chest! My wings are still visible… This was a long time ago… Do you think this is what I should start again?? Can push ups help as well??
Could you please suggest some great freehand exercise to get lean and toned I’d say…not too bulky (I’m a car designer… no macho man). Awaiting your reply… desperately…Thank you very much for your time.
Answer. There is one thing in particular that I can think of that will help you get into some kind of shape using just bodyweight only exercises to help you get leaned and toned and develop as you say, a CLEAN neat back.
A few years ago a Dr. Frank I. Katch and his brother Victor (both of whom hold EdD, and PhD in exercise science and physical education respectively) developed a unique formula as it applies to bodyweight only exercises.
The formula is based on the Exercise / Rest principle and it goes something like this. As a starting point you must pick out a non-apparatus exercise such as a bodyweight only Pull-ups (any non-apparatus exercise will suffice: Pull-ups, Crunches, Dips between two chairs, One-Leg Heel Raises, Leg Raises, Pushups, One-Leg Squats and Sissy Squats).
Using the Pull-up as an example, begin by performing this exercise for as many ultra-strict repetitions as possible within a 10 second time frame, Now rest for exactly I0 seconds; after the 10 second rest, immediately begin to perform some more Pull-ups for I0 seconds, then take another 10-second rest.
Continue this pattern of I0 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest for 9 more complete cycles, for a total of 10. On each of the succeeding five days you increase the number of cycles by two.
This stage, as well as stages 3, 4, and 5, consists of 6 workout days and begins with 10 cycles of work and rest, increasing to 20 cycles by day six, The noted difference in this stage and the stages to follow are varying degrees of rest between each cycle. Within this stage (2) you will perform 15 seconds of exercise and take 10 seconds of rest per cycle,
At this stage you switch to 20 seconds of exercise and take 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
Now you do 30 seconds of exercise and take 10 seconds of rest per cycle.
In the last stage you do 30 seconds of exercise and take 5 seconds of rest per cycle.
To summarize, here are the steps for successfully completing the five stages of the exercise/rest principle.
I. Each individual stage (I-5) consists of 6 non-consecutive workout days in a two week time frame. The workouts could be performed on a (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Rest days include: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
2. Begin each new stage on day 1 by doing a minimum of I0 nonstop sequences of the exer¬cise/rest principle, then on each scheduled workout day thereafter be sure to add 2 non¬stop sequences (as in the detailed stage 1 example).
3. Always do as many ultra-strict repetitions as possible during the work phase.
Follow the Exercise/Rest Formula as described and you discover a renewed interest in performing Bodyweight Only exercises especially as it applies to Pull-ups and Pushups and the development of the musculature of your back.
Hey before I show you some of the new stuff that I’ve been
experimenting with, I need to remind you that today is the
last day to get my Super Spectacular Birthday Sale Pack!
Now, I love strength training too much to ever stick with only
one method forever.
Although there are a handful of principles that we always adhere
to, I love shaking things up with new stuff!
I’ve been using a new routine for the past 6 weeks and LOVE it.
So I figured that I should at least share it with you since you
probably love training as much as I do.
At first I was thinking about writing a book about it, but I’m too
lazy right now
Instead, I’ll film some of my workouts and give you the parameters
I am using so you can follow along.
You can also use these parameters to create your own program.
Here is the first workout video.
I’ll be uploading one or two videos a week featuring my new
Grow Stronger Method for you to follow, so make sure you’re
subscribed to my channel.
You’ll notice that I use strongman exercises, but you can sub that
for any barbell lift you’d like.
Also, the basic format is to perform a heavy lift followed by
gymnastic exercise progressions.
This is a formula for EXTREME STRENGTH explosion!
I’ll tell you more about the science behind it in another e mail.
PS – many of my training and life philosophies can be discovered
though the books in this package… you might find some real gold
nuggets in there
I’ve been reading some interesting stuff about psychology
that I think might relate to you.
Apparently the majority of men who workout, strength train,
compete in sports, or who are “Type A” personalities…
Are what psychoanalysts might call “Phallic Narcissists”.
In short, we’re always looking for ways to prove our strength
It has much to do with proving ourselves to our fathers. But
that’s a rant for another day
I say “we” because there is no doubt that I fall into this category
In a way, everything I do is aimed at becoming STRONGER
and SMARTER! — it’s like I’m always trying to prove myself
to some imaginary patriarch.
If you read this newsletter you’re probably the same way.
You want more muscle.
You want to be stronger.
You want to be sexier.
You want to be leaner.
You want to make more money.
You want to have more women.
You are always looking for new methods of self improvement.
Well, I’m not here to tell you that this is good or bad. I’m
just pointing out that we’re much more alike than you probably
That is why I put together my 33rd Birthday Package which
includes several of my out-of-print books on becoming the
STRONGEST and SMARTEST version of yourself.
The books in this package have not been available for over a
year, and will probably never become available again.
But for the next 48 hours you can have my “get stronger and
smarter” book collection for a ridiculously low price.
Since we’re all addicted to becoming the strongest version of
ourselves, even if it’s a bit neurotic, we might as well share the
Here are my best secrets for Growing Stronger
It’s been said…
If you want to know the future, look to the past.
For example, if you’re concerned about the future of America
(as so many Americans are right now), just look to the past.
If the rise, and inevitable fall, of every single empire that ever
graced the face of our planet is any indication of our future… then
we’re on the right path!
But that’s a rant for another day
Well, what about muscle building?
How will people who want to build bigger, stronger muscles
do it in the future?
Just like they did in the early part of the 20th century.
The pendulum ALWAYS swings from one extreme to the other.
You can find strength training books, written by guys like Author
Saxon and George Hackenschimdt, from back in the early 1900′s.
In those books you will always notice that theses incredibly strong
and powerful men allocated TONS of time to relaxation, recovery
and mobility work.
Also, they took a more “integrated” approach to strength training by
including several other modalities to develop their physiques.
It wasn’t uncommon for these guys to be involved in the martial arts,
wrestling and gymnastics also!
Today you’d have a hard time finding a weight lifter that could not
only press double his body weight overhead… but has the
athleticism and flexibility hold a simple yoga pose for longer than
You may not be into all of the “woo-woo” stuff that most yoga-freaks
obsess over… but you may very well benefit by adding some simple
yoga stretching and mobility to your routine.
If you’re comfortable with the way your body feels and the level of
strength you’ve achieved… I’m happy for you!
But if you’re like me, and are always looking for ways to improve
your muscle, mind and lifestyle…
Then you might want to try this out:
PS – I got a strongman show tomorrow, I’ll post a video on YouTube
sometime this weekend for ya… in case you’re interested
There is a HUGE difference between the physique of a
And one of the “muscle beach” guys from the 60′s or 70′s.
Not only are the bodybuilders of today over-inflated, stiff
Very few of them have the ability to use their muscles for
something other than flexing in the mirror.
On the other hand, the old school bodybuilders looked far
more symmetrical AND had the relative strength and
flexibility to use their muscles athletically.
Currently I am of the opinion that the best looking physique
is one that is built with heavy weights, gymnastic training and
a systematic approach to mobility.
The TEST to see if you are heading in the right direction
is if you are strong enough to lift heavy AND you can move
well enough to do exercises like the guy in the picture above.
Want a better looking body, that can do more stuff?
PS – You know me well enough that I wouldn’t suggest for
you to do something… that I personally can not.
I’ll be sharing more of my experiences with this new type of
“Hybrid” Strength and Bodyweight training over on my
Here is my latest workout for you to see for yourself.
A large percentage of men have this embarrassing little
Heck, even I have done this before.
Here is what happens…
You’ve found a new love, something (or someone) that
you are heads over heels about.
Every waking moment you think about this thing; you
want to “do it” all the time.
Non-stop, everyday… YOU’RE OBSESSED!
In all of you excitement you lose your head… you forget
to stop for a moment and take a relaxed breath.
Instead of being systematic and mindful about your
approach, you let passion whip you up into a tailspin.
You’ve become impotent.
In your haste you’ve ignored the very thing that will allow
you to last longer.
Of course we’re talking about strength training or working
And now that you’ve overdone it, you only have two choices:
#1. You can rest a few weeks, until you feel better. Then go
back to doing the same things that caused you injury in the
#2. Create a more systematic approach to your training, that
includes more mobility and recovery work, so you can last
longer… and keep getting stronger.
Look, everyone starts out like a Wild Stallion… aroused with
tons of excitement and passion.
But if you keep shooting your load too early, never giving
your body the care it needs to make it through the long haul…
Then you’ll always be a little boy on the inside, no matter how
stiff, old and hairy you grow on the outside.
And THAT is an embarrassing state of affairs.
Become the type of man you know you can be… Try this:
Grow (up) Stronger,
Can you believe that people once thought the Earth was flat?
How about the popular legend that Galileo Galilei was forced
to recant his discovery that the Earth revolved around the Sun?
“The Church” forced him to remove that statement from his
books since they said the idea was “blasphemous”!
What makes people hold so dearly to outdated and stupid ideas?
What causes people to consider opposing ideas, that are clearly
correct – blasphemy?
If you still think that strength athletes and body builders should
avoid stretching because it makes you weaker…
Then you might also believe that the Sun revolves around the
I will save you all of the scientific jargon and BS about why
stretching is ESSENTIAL for all athletes and anyone who lifts
And… I can dead lift nearly 700 pounds!
Not only am I standing by the blasphemous statement that
stretching will NOT cause injury…
I am also firmly stating that you MUST actively stretch often if
you are ever to reach your full muscle and strength potential.
If you’re smart… and are ready to get stronger and build more
muscle than ever before, then start here.
Of course not everyone will heed my call… but then again maybe
the Sun really does revolve around the Earth
Start Stretching Today: http://leanhybridmuscle.com/goto/yoke
Grow Stronger (and more mobile),