Posts Tagged ‘Marty Gallagher’


I’ve been gone for quite a while, but I ran across this book by Marty Gallagher and decided a review would be a good way to drop back in and say “Hello”!

The book for review is CrossCore® Hardcore: Revolutionary Resistance: How to Build Maximum Muscle and Extreme Strength Without Weights, Machines or Gyms Kindle Edition and published (on Kindle) May 3, 2016 so it’s “fresh”!

As you know, these limited run fitness books in paper cost alot more – the paper edition of this book is a whopping $30 – but the Kindle edition when I purchased it was just $10. At that price I decided to buy it. And if it were terrible I can always get a refund from Amazon.

First, there are some oddities about the book or at least it’s Amazon description. What they heck is it talking about for one thing? I wasn’t quite sure at first what a “CrossCore®” was or is. Fortunately someone decided to let the cat out of the bag and just call the thing what it is.. a SUSPENSION TRAINER. Once you realize that you can begin to appreciate the book a bit more.

Second, the pretext of the book is  a mystery to me.  The story goes that some “special op” guys really wondered if there were “anything” that they could carry with them short of a set of kettlebells that was “worth it” to stay in shape. That story is probably true but it soundss a bit odd since, supposedly, the TRX was developed by and for “specal op” guys right? But then kettlebells were all the rage for “special op” guys and then “tactical barbell” and then back to this.

In other words, given the origins of this book it’s good to know all the “special op” guys are about as clueless as the rest of us about what what works … the difference is their name get’s thrown around for street cred because it sounds better to say “I wrote this book because I got a call from a special ops guy who wanted to know…” than to say “I wrote this book because I got a call from a fat middle aged guy who dropped out of Planet Fitness and wanted to know…”

I’ll be reviewing this from the perspective of the fat middle aged guy in case you were afraid you weren’t “spec op” enough to benefit from it, ok?

Third you can go about half way through the book hearing about the “pin out” position and you hope they’re not talking about a grenade, but it’s not quite apparent. Actually they’re talking about the construction of the CrossCore® suspension trainer. As you know some suspension trainers are basically a strap attached to an anchor point (or two straps to two anchor points).

To add instability other suspension trainers are pulley based.

When a pulley is involved you have to maintain stability to keep the pulley from moving while performing the exercise and that adds a different layer of difficulty (and stabilizing work) to the exercise.

The CrossCore® has a “pin” that can be used to stop the action of the pulley and decrease the need for stabilization during exercise. If you’re a complete newbie starting out with the CrossCore® you can start “pin in” and, as you progress switch to exercises that are “pin out”.

Unless you count the latest edition of the IsoGym, which doesn’t really have a pulley but has instability because the strap can move around a carabiner, I’ve never used a pulley based trainer. But does stopping the pulley keep the rope or strap entirely free of movement? I really don’t know, but that’s the implication.

You can see the “pin” and some exercise progressions suggested by the CrossCore® though the book has variations beyond this video and even suggests a use of the device not suggested by the company – but I don’t think that will apply to most average users.

Once past the bravado and confusion, we get into the real content of the book and Gallagher doesn’t disappoint. His goal is to use the suspension trainer to create enough resistance that a very fit “special ops” guy can get a good upper body workout in 15 minutes or less.

As you’ll read, the way of doing this is to apply a variety of techniques to the actual exercises to boost the inefficiency of the exercise.

For example, each exercise is done at reduced “grind” speed… no explosive work. Progressions are accomplished by changing foot placement even during the exercise. Progression is also accomplished in the case mentioned by starting with one arm movements to near failure moving to two arm movements to near failure. These are like “drop sets” essentially in the 5 to 10 rep range.

The difficulty of these moves can be enhanced by pauses during the reps, relaxation at the point of greatest flexion, and full lockout at the point of greatest extension.

I have to admit I didn’t know you could do “one arm” work the described in the book and that was a valuable thing to learn and the “first thing” that jumped out.

Of course the premise is that elite athletes can get the strength building they need using this device in lieu of any other machine or weight. I’m a bit skeptical still though the workout described is amazingly challenging. What I mean is that I didn’t see how a deadlift, for example, could be replaced. Possibly I just read through the list of exercise progressions in the back of the book too quickly. One exercise was listed as the remedy for “glute stimulation” so perhaps that’s the cure all in this case?

As Gallagher notes in the book, real progress will involve real mental application in each exercise. The average guy or gal probably isn’t used to devoting that much attention to an exercise and so that’s why they have unspectacular results.

No matter what device or protocol you’re using – even body weight work – Gallagher’s section on mental involvement and hypertrophy should be helpful.

I certainly was inspired to “give it a go” “Gallagher Style” with my suspension training after reading the book so I’d have to say that alone was worth the $10 price tag. (That’s really what you wanted to know, right? “Was it worth it?”)

Of course I usually quote Gallagher her on the topic of “strength endurance” and THIS BOOK ISN’T THAT! This is about pure strength and hypertrophy with exercise done in the 5 to 10 rep range, not hundreds or thousands.

As the book progresses the user is shown Basic to Advanced routines – some using weihts in a backpack (hey what about “no other equipment”?) and a large variety of possible exercises to round out the information.

This is a strength book, but if you’re using a suspension trainer and know how to use it for ENDURANCE, you can always do what Dr. Schwartz said about IsoTonoMetrics… you can be cranking out reps for endurance and slow them down for strength as part of an overall workout.

In the world of modern fitness with “periodization” you could do strength one day and the next workout do more endurance work. Any knowledge of how to increase the usefulness of a suspension trainer should be useful.

This book will be great if you travel a lot and need to stay in shape with a suspension trainer… you can make sure your basic strength isn’t falling behind that way!  Why you or a special ops guy might not want to throw in a resistance band or two for variety or just extra resistance isn’t something the book discusses much because the goal is to find ONE TOOL that essentially can “Do it all”… fair enough.

I’m not sure I’d have wanted to invest in $30 version… you may. The Kindle book was sufficient for me and accomplished it’s goal.

I’d love to hear your comments! Thanks for reading!




Dr. Leonard Schwartz in his prime…

People who come to “HeavyHands” from a background of using barbells or machines for building muscle love the fact that walking with weighted hands offers the chance to “do everything” at once… build muscle, burn fat, and build endurance. Dr. Schwartz talked about muscular development for the purpose of efficiency, not bulk. His feats of strength and endurance while weighing under 150 pounds and just getting really started after age 54 amaze people today. Just one look at Dr. Len Schwartz’ physique with its under 5% body fat and obvious muscularity, and it’s obvious his training program offers the benefits most gym rats aspire to achieve.

There are a few hitches however.

When folks are used to training in the gym on machines, they are taught to think in terms of exercises for every body part so that development is proportionate everywhere.

Start walking with HeavyHands or other hand weights and it becomes apparent that some key muscle sectors can be overlooked. Walking with HeavyHands can quite obviously develop the anterior (frontal) deltoids and biceps. If moved rearward forcefully on the back swing, they can most certainly reach the rear deltoid, upper back, and tricep. The muscles of the leg used to propel the body forward while walking or jogging tend to receive a better workout than walking alone because of the way the weights affects one’s foot movement… the longer the arm movement, the longer the stride….the more forceful the back swing, the more forceful the step forward.

What’s left out of the mix for the folks whose HeavyHands exercise is confined to the walking movement is improved development of the quadriceps and the muscles that lift the arms overhead (lateral deltoids and trapezius) and pectoral muscles. Abdominal, lower back, and other supportive muscle groups can be left out of the equation as well.

Of course, Dr. Schwartz’ books show a variety of movements aimed at addressing these problems. “Duck Waddles” (aka “Duck Walk”) and “Jack Knifing” tried to address the quads and lower back respectively. The first is a “walking squat” with a deep knee bend. Here’s a video of the movement with weighted hands:

The second movement for the lower back, the Jack Knife”, is pretty similar to a “walking” form of “double ski poling” shown in this image:

Double Ski Poling

Double Ski Poling

Those moves certainly work well. The “Duck Walk” is a type of “walking lunge”. Some folks (like this author) have problems with lunges done “on the fly” because of existing knee problems. The “Jack Knife” admittedly looks “strange” and puts off some people from using it… though keep reading and see how to get the benefits of the “Jack Knife” by adapting another strategy of Dr. Schwartz that will be explored below thanks to Marty Gallagher’s recollection!

What about other options? Stairclimbing with HeavyHands certainly activates the quads, but not necessarily the overhead component.

Recently HeavyHands and Leonard Schwartz Fan Marty Gallagher reminded fans of Dr. Schwartz of another solution for quad activation and a simple “hack” makes it address several deficiencies that exist in walking while swinging weights alone.

While recounting the benefits of this “new tool for an old protocol”, Gallagher’s first article in the series reminds us of a Heavy Hands combination that folks familiar with the Dr. Schwartz’ books don’t seem to remember (or at least this author did not remember!)…

[Leonard Schwartz’] cardio/strength feats were incredible. At age 70, he could pump a pair of ten-pound hand weights to forehead height (on every rep) for a solid hour—while power walking and squatting every ten paces.

Walking and Squatting every ten paces?

Why not do an overhead press after that squat?

Tired of squatting and pressing after a while, but want to work the lower back? Why not exchange the squat and press with a double ski pole every ten steps?

After a hiatus from HeavyHands to work with Kettlebells, this author had to get out in the field and give that option a try!

As mentioned before, due to a knee injury, it’s potentially dangerous to do lunges “on the fly” (i.e. the “Duck Walk”). It’s simply wiser to plant the feet first before bending the knee to be sure the knee doesn’t twist or go ahead of the toes. Stopping momentarily and doing a proper squat presents less of a problem.

Here’s what the reader will probably find:

  1. Using 10 pound weights just for walking and swinging to forehead height is an amazing achievement for any length of time let alone ONE HOUR…one of many Dr. Schwartz was known for! Unless you’re going for a very short walk, use your normal HeavyHands weight or even go lighter or you may experience the downside of being too tired to swing the weights when you’re about done. The extra squatting and overhead pressing will bite into your strength and endurance on a very long walk!
  2. Likewise, to avoid extreme soreness, it may be wise to devote only a portion of your planned weighted hands walk to the squat and press protocol. Start out doing a squat and press after every ten steps for 15 minutes. In the author’s case, this was the perfect way to start and gave the extra quad stimulation needed for a good workout without overworking things.
  3. Squatting every ten paces provided a good overall leg workout and, because it was done consistently instead of haphazardly, provided a better overall workout than simply stopping every so often to do a whole set of squats.
  4. Overhead pressing every ten paces (in addition to the normal hand movements) provided a better tricep workout than would ordinarily happen while also allowing the front, side, and rear deltoid to get their share of work!

Next time, this author plans to try the “squat and press protocol” first, but, at some point, incorporate a “double ski pole” every ten paces to test that.

Incorporating the squat and press every ten steps was a manageable way to increase the overall benefit of walking with weighted hands by increasing the overall number of muscles worked (more “panaerobic”) and, as a result, increasing the intensity of the workout.

Note: If the readers get to test either the “squat and press” or “double ski pole” protocols every ten paces or have other experience doing things like that, a comment is appreciated!


Dr. Schwartz “Strength Endurance Apparatus”

In Dr. Schwartz’ patent for “Strength Endurance Method”  he describes what became his “Pan-X” exercise apparatus. While he has a separate patent for that device, he mentions it in order to describe his strength endurance method.

He describes a number of exercises for his strength endurance method and one is a version of “jogging”.

Why is it suitable for “longstrength”?

Here is an interesting passage from the patent filing that relates both to “jogging” with Dr. Schwartz’ device and other exercises he envisioned using too.

Dr. Schwartz had previously added “Heavyhands” to walking, jogging and running to maximize the aerobic value of those exercises. In his development of “Longstrength” theory, he envisioned using the body’s own weight to exercise both the upper and lower body in order to build not only aerobic capacity but muscles capable of exerting greater strength over longer than average times. Here is how that would have transformed “jogging” into a “Longstrength” exercise – by making it a “whole body” movement: