Time to Get Stupid with Ben Lee

By: Ben Lee

I pride myself on being an athlete who takes an educated and intelligent approach to training. If you’ve attended any Science of Performance seminars, you’ll see the amount of research that goes into devising a proper training plan. That being said, there are times when we just need to get stupid and do work.

All too often, especially among the movement specialist crowd, we forget that lifting weights is SUPPOSED TO BE DIFFICULT. Unless you’re an extremely specialized athlete, weight room work should be uncomfortable and make you question why you’re here, and even those specialized athletes have those kinds of training sessions too.


Understand that, if you train for athletics, developing specialized skills (motor patterns, rate of force development, planar dependent athleticism) requires perfect practice and high repetition, but there is something to be said about body numbing workouts that develops cojones. And in today’s world of stupid dances and rising estrogen levels, everyone can benefit from having some more cojones.

After spending almost my entire adult life in the gym here are some challenges that have been thrown down over the years. Enjoy the sweat drip, burning lungs, loss of the ability to walk, and say hi to Jesus for me if you see him.

*Disclaimer: I am not responsible if any of you idiots hurt yourselves doing any of these. As always, make sure technique is good enough that no one shoots a vertebra across the room or avulses their ACL.

Squat Dropset

A training partner and I did this back in 2007 after watch Matt Kroc’s squat dropset. The weight listed is what we used but obviously gauge this based on your max squat values. Don’t worry about what percentage you start from, just make sure it’s heavy.

  • 365 lbs x AMRAP
  • 315 lbs x AMRAP
  • 275 lbs x AMRAP
  • 225 lbs x AMRAP
  • 185 lbs x AMRAP
  • 135 lbs x AMRAP


Kettlebell Swing Challenge

A newer one I played with while waiting for shoulder surgery in August 2012. I did this to lose bodyfat, increase posterior hypertrophy, strengthen the deadlift lockout and train without further damaging my shoulder. Make sure your Hardstyle KB swing technique is up to par.

  • Men: at least 50 lb KB
  • Women: at least 35 lb KB

300 swings for minimal time. Take as many sets as necessary but each break between sets lasts for 10 seconds at most.

Triceps Death

Stole this from Joe DeFranco. A good finisher to leave you with some jacked triceps. Again, the weight used is what we used but start with weight you can close grip bench for 5-10 reps off your chest.

  • 225 lbs x 10 off chest
  • 225 lbs x AMRAP off 1 board
  • 225 lbs x AMRAP off 2 board
  • 225 lbs x AMRAP off 3 board
  • 225 lbs x AMRAP off 4 board


Rest Pause

Doggcrapp Training is not very well known but is effective as hell. Their workouts are based on the rest-pause system — hit a set to failure, take 10 deep breaths, hit another mini set to failure, take 10 deep breaths, hit one last miniset to failure. As your workouts progress, once you can reach 15-20 reps combined in the three minisets, it’s time to up the weight.

Note that this works spectacularly for bodybuilding but is counter-intuitive for athletic development. Also note, this does not work for any exercises where you might die if you fail (BB bench press, BB overhead press) so stick to dumbbells or machines – this is the first and only time you’ll hear me say this. Get ready for a real bad lactic acid burn and an extra inch on your chest.

Sample ‘A’ Day (chest, shoulders, triceps, back width & thickness):

  • Incline Press: 125 lbs DB x 12, 3, 2
  • Smith Machine Shoulder Press: 225 lbs x 14, 5, 3
  • Triceps Pullover: 100 lb DB x 15, 5, 2
  • Lat Pulldown: 200 lbs x 13, 3, 2
  • Chest Supported Row: 4 plates x 10, 4, 1

Breathing Squats

The dreaded 20 rep squats require the right combination of cojones and mental imbalance. Take a weight you can squat for 10 consecutive reps and do it for 20. Rest and breath with the bar on your back and you can only re-rack it once you get all 20.

This is worth repeating: do not re-rack the bar until all 20 reps are done. If you have to stand with the bar on your back and take a hundred breaths between your 19th and 20th rep, do it. Not surprisingly, these were done every ‘B’ Doggcrapp workout for the squat variation.


Too many challenges here to list. Try it with low weight for high volume or low distance for high weight. My favourite is high weight for high volume. Of all the things I’ve done over the years, prowler work ranks in the top 3. Enjoy your newly enhanced work capacity but try not to puke your lungs out while training. Here are a couple challenges:

  • High Volume: 10 sets x 80 yards @ 90 lbs
  • High Weight: as many sets as possible x 20 yards @ max weight you can budge



Which challenge interests you the most? Do you have the cojones (and the technique) to try it yourself? Comment below and remember to”like” us on facebook!

Ben graduated from the University of Waterloo in Mechanical Engineering and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Kinesiology (Biomechanics). Ben’s training interests are strongman style training, scientific application to weightlifting methods and martial arts. He takes a quantitative and engineered approach to training, attempting to reason and optimize all variables associated with enhancing performance. Formerly training for powerlifting, he has shifted his training goals to general strength, power and conditioning, and competitive Muay Thai.



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2 responses to “Time to Get Stupid with Ben Lee

  1. Great post! I will be sure to try some of these variations and incorporate them into my workouts. Never even thought to try some of these techniques. Keep the great idea’s coming!

  2. The prowler & the squat dropsets one look quite sinister. Will have to try them 🙂

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