A tempo training workout that uses speed and isometric holds to create strength and grow muscle
Building a strong, sculpted body doesn’t require hours spent working out—just an expert approach. And with The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, seasoned trainers Sagi Kalev and Autumn Calabrese have compiled their best, most efficient techniques into 30- to 40-minute resistance-training workouts to help you craft a powerful, perfectly defined physique in just 60 days.
Throughout the entire 60 days, you’ll focus on Stabilization, Strength, and Power to rapidly build, sculpt, and refine your physique. Combine this training with proven portion-control nutrition-the way Sagi and Autumn do in The Master’s Hammer and Chisel-and you’ll build a body that’s strong, chiseled, and defined.
As I embark on my own 60-Day Journey with The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, I will be reviewing each workout as they present themselves in the program calendar. I will add my own insights and observations about the workouts; the comments I make are my own as an Independent Certified Personal Trainer and do not necessarily represent the Celebrity Trainers or Beachbody. Full disclosure, I am also an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and a distributor of this program and all other Beachbody products. I hope the information I provide is beneficial in your personal fitness journey.
You will begin to notice that each workout in The Master’s Hammer and Chisel program is very specific and focuses on certain training concepts. There are a few that incorporate Isometric holds to keep the engaged muscles under tension for a longer period of time. Time Under Tension and Tempo work go hand-in-hand, essentially performing an exercise at a particular tempo, say a 3 count on either the concentric (shortening) or eccentric (lengthening) portion of the move, will keep the muscles loaded longer. This format is particularly useful in developing strength and growth in Type I or Slow Twitch muscles.
For example, if you perform a 10-rep set, and each rep takes you 3 seconds to complete, your muscle experiences 30 seconds of time under tension.
If you were to perform that same set but spend 2 seconds lifting the weight (concentric phase), 1 second pausing at the top, and 3 seconds lowering the weight (eccentric phase), those same 10 reps would give you approximately 60 seconds of time under tension, and you’re going to achieve a greater benefit from that extra time under load.
Fast reps are more power oriented, more explosive and can help increase strength. Fast reps involve the Type II muscle fibers or your Fast Twitch muscles. Reps in this style should be done with a heavy enough weight to tax the muscles while maintaining positive control and proper form throughout the full range of motion.
When you combine tempo work with speed work – you’re targeting both the slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers and getting a great workout.
Iso Speed Hammer follows a very simple training protocol, each exercise is done for two sets of 10 reps each. The first set is the Tempo Set performed on a 3/1/1 tempo: 3 counts down, hold for 1 count, up for 1 count. The Speed set is 10 reps performed as quickly as possible while maintaining form and control. You will also notice that the organization of the exercises moves you between upper and lower body, this gives you micro recovery periods between major muscle groups engaged.
The two most important elements of form are leg and torso positioning. When you step into the lunge, your forward leg should form a 90 degree angle with your knee over your ankle, likewise your rear leg should also form a 90 degree angle when in the full lunge position. A slightly wider stance will help with stability, especially if you’re using heavier weights. Lower and lift into the lunge using your muscles – you should feel this in the glutes, hamstrings and quads. If you’re feeling this movement in your knees, really focus on moving the muscles instead of your knee joint. Keep your torso upright, shoulders back and chest up and forward – the emphasis of this movement is on the lower body so your upper body should be quiet.
Alternative #1 – Chin-Up Assist, set the tension to avoid bouncing up and down, the assist should be just that – an assist. As you progress using the assist, reduce the tension until you’re able to complete natural chin-ups. When I use the assist, I prefer to put both feet in the stirrup, however you may find that one foot in is safer and easier to dismount from.
Alternative #2 – Resistance Bands, choose a band with medium to high resistance, secure it to a door connector or other device slightly higher than your head height, step back into a lunge position leaning your chest forward while keeping a flat back. Pull the bands in, palms up with elbows in tight to your sides. The negative comes from the release, release the band back on a 3 count move. You can add a measure of difficulty by crunching the rear leg up and in as you pull the bands towards you.
Always inspect your bands and connectors before use – look for cracks, splits or frayed handles, trust me…it’s no fun being hit by a resistance band that snaps mid-pull!
It’s okay to have a slight bend in your elbows as you raise your arms up, however really focus on stopping at shoulder height. When you execute the second set with 10 “fast” reps, take positive control of the weights throughout the full range of motion, don’t throw them over shoulder height or let them bang into your sides as you “bottom out”. Standing astride your bench as Sagi positions you is helpful in maintaining a stable body position for the exercise.
(note: in this image from the DVD Sagi has raised the weights above shoulder height – focus on shoulder height and no higher!)
Many people think that using resistance bands is an easier alternative to using dumbbells but don’t be fooled on this one. The constant tension on the band, particularly with the 3 count tempo is really going to work your rear deltoid muscles. Just as with the side lateral raises, focus on controlling the full range of motion on the “fast” reps. It’s easy to bounce through this when you’re using a band, but resist that and focus on control.
As with the Static Lunge, you’ll do the left leg first with a set of 10 reps at tempo followed by a set of 10 reps at a fast pace; the second round switches to the right leg to repeat the process.
I found that my bench was more stable if I sat on the bench and leaned my chest against the back, the sitting position allows me to lift heavier weights without worrying about the bench tipping forward.