Continuing on with my theme of bodyweight training, I thought a series of reviews of programs and books might be useful. In istallment numero uno I’ll look at a great new program outlined in the book “Project Kratos” by Drew Baye.
The usefulness of any physical training program, in my opinion, is its versatility and flexibility. It should be easily picked up by the beginner and adaptable to the needs of more advanced trainers. With this criteria, Project Kratos is a real winner.
The Name “Kratos” comes from the Greek god of the same name, who was an enforcer of Zeus. Drew Baye contrasts Kratos with Adonis, who is traditionally associated with muscular physiques, but “has more show than go”. Kratos on the other hand was a powerful warrior god who could take care of business when challenged.
The strength of Kratos is that it offers the best methods for progression and increasing the load intensity of any exercise. This feature of the book makes it stand out markedly from other systems.
Rather than simply adding reps, Drew Baye has created a structured 5-level system of progression by altering the way in which you perform reps. At level 5 you’re really demanding that your muscle fibres extract every bit of juice they can muster.
Changes involve cadence, an elegant approach to partial reps and ways to increase the load of a exercise by manipulating leverage and shifting from bilateral to unilateral movement (two legs to one).
All programs mention some of these factors. In bodyweight training there are no plates to add to the bar. Eventually bilateral movements will become too easy to perform and you’ll need to up the ante so to speak. Unilateral movements and increasing the lever of an exercise are methods that advanced trainers learn to master progressively.
Emphasis on intensity
Kratos is a tough program, but it is a brief one. Intensity is at the centre of everything that you’ll do in the routines that Drew prescribes. His High Intensity Training (HIT) approach will be suited to both the strength trainer and to those seeking muscle gain.
Kratos is chiefly centred around Time Under load (TUL) with the notion that only quality, well-controlled reps will do and working out to failure is encouraged. In fact, the book does a pretty good job of debunking the idea that going to momentary muscular failure will destroy you. On the contrary, high intensity means less volume in an HIT routine. As long as your form doesn’t collapse you can safely keep stimulating your muscles with further reps.
Project Kratos also contains a lot of other cool little techniques that assist the bodyweight training devotee in developing impressive levels of muscular tension. One such technique is the Timed Static Contraction (TSC), which as far as I know is unique to this program. I won’t go into it further because I don’t want to give all of Drew’s best ideas away but essentially it offers another way of replacing a weighted movement with a high tension bodyweight one.
It is little hacks like this that really set Project Kratos apart from many of the other programs out there.
The program is primarily about building absolute strength and muscle gain. These are two worthy goals and the fact this program addresses the left end of the strength-speed continuum needs to be accounted for in program design.
Absolute Strength => Strength Speed => Speed Strength => Absolute Speed
If you’re after athletic ability also, strength alone isn’t enough so the Kratos program would be insufficient. It doesn’t claim to make you an outstanding athlete and it sticks to its core purpose quite tightly.
Adding sets of explosive reps and performing plyometric exercises would be one avenue into taking the strength you gain via a program like Project Kratos and increasing your power and speed. This is very doable but you need a base of lean muscle mass and strength first and Kratos handles those goals admirably.
In fact, the book doesn’t touch on the idea of periodization, which I think is necessary to get the most out of every program. Punching in weeks of variations — be they more sets, higher reps, different exercises, plyometrics and not going to failure — will enable you to get the most of any program. As long as you stick to your main plan most of the time, these periods of change will ensure you stay fresh mentally and physically.
Despite that omission, Project Kratos will definitely be a great addition to your fitness arsenal. It is packed with sensible nutrition advice as well as a host of novel exercises and approaches. There is plenty on offer for the novice and advanced trainer to sink their teeth into.
- Find out more / buy your copy of Project Kratos by Drew Baye
- For a detailed breakdown of the Strength-Speed Continuum, check out this video from trainer Eric Cressey.