Interview with the Godfather

I recently interviewed my fitness coach, Craig Ballantyne. Without a doubt, the most influential coach on my programs and methods has been Craig.

Inside this interview, you’ll discover:

=> The politically incorrect truth on what you need to do to lose the most fat possible in 4 weeks

=> How to lose fat AND gain muscle at the same time… is it really possible?

=> The most wicked lower body finisher Craig has ever created (you’ll curse him… I know I did)

==> CLICK HERE to listen to the call or download it to your device <==

Mike:              Hey everyone. This is Mike Whitfield with WorkoutFinishers.com and TrainWithFinishers.com, and you are in for a treat. I have with me on the phone my fitness and business coach, Mr. Craig Ballantyne. Craig, welcome to the call.

Craig:             Hey Mikey. Thanks for having me, bud.

Mike:              Absolutely, looking very forward to this. I know my readers love TT workouts and me being a TT trainer and of course introducing the TT principles. We’re going to talk a lot on some cool stuff, the 2.0 coming out, very excited about that. We’re also going to talk about some things that people can do if they only have four weeks to lose fat. We’re going to give some great tips on that and some other things as well. So let’s go ahead and jump into it.

Now most of my people know about Turbulence Training and they know about you, but there are going to be some on this call that perhaps don’t know about Turbulence Training. So if you will, give us a little bit of a background of how you came about. I definitely want you to point out the story of how you came across the name because personally I find that pretty cool.

Craig:             Sure. When I was younger, I was really into bodybuilding and then I became really interested in training like an athlete. What I ended up doing was I started training people back in the late ‘90s and I realized that the way that I trained personally would be short burst workouts, the super sets and interval training, was helping my athletes get really lean in a very short amount of time. So I started using that with Men’s Health magazine, because I was writing for them, and we just found that it works so well.

So in about 2001, I published the very first Turbulence Training workout and I came up with the name on a flight from Salt Lake City to Toronto after a nutrition conference. If I remember correctly, it’s something that I believe was from turbulence on the plane and it made me realize that if you put turbulence on your body when you train like this, it causes the afterburn and the afterburn causes you to burn more calories and burn more belly fat and get more results in a short amount of time so even though you don’t train as long as you probably used to, especially if you’re new to Turbulence Training, you get more results and that’s what matters. So we’re helping people save time, lose their belly fat, and enjoy their life a whole lot more. It’s really fantastic, the feedback we get.

Mike:              Definitely, and I get that same feedback as well by introducing Turbulence Training with my clients. Back when I trained one-on-one clients, that’s where they go the fastest results. I actually had several win the transformation contests using TT workouts. What I’m really excited about—I was actually a part of it—is Turbulence Training 2.0. Tell us if you will, two to three of the differences between the original TT program and 2.0.

Craig:             Well the two main differences is 1) We’ve cut all the workouts down to 30 minutes so we reduced some rest periods but still maintained that super high intensity. This has been something that’s changed over the years. In fact, it’s been 10 years now. It’s the 10th anniversary since we put our first Turbulence Training website up. It was two years after we came out the first Turbulence Training workout we put a website up for it. So we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary by updating the workouts.

So shorter rest periods, more work in 30 minutes than ever before, and we’re actually using more metabolic finishers and bodyweight finishers along the lines of some of the stuff that we’ve worked together on to replace interval training. The workouts are shorter and there are no machines needed. So you don’t need a treadmill. You don’t need a bike. There are so many people that live in Wisconsin and like to do intervals in summer time but can’t do intervals in the winter time and so we’ve solved these problems with these workouts.

Since you were part of the film crew, you know what these workouts are like. They’re so entertaining and they’re so effective and they really do kick your butt in 30 minutes. So anybody that does it, you can get results. I mean you’ll be pleasantly surprised but I mean most people, especially in the Turbulence Training Finishers world know how hard you can work in just four minutes so it shouldn’t be a stretch for anybody to believe how amazing the results you can get from 30 minutes of training three times per week. So we’re really excited about what we have. That’s when each one of these programs comes with follow along workouts and that’s a new addition to the program as well.

Mike:              Definitely. That’s a huge difference right there is the follow along videos, not only because I was part of that filming but I also discovered just little tweaks in my own programs and of course helping others with their programs. Just as an example, the dumbbell step up, I would step up on the bench and take about a second or two to come down but during the filming, you really had me take a good solid three seconds to sort of come down and that really, really fired up my glutes. So just those little tweaks right there as far as watching how we do it rep by rep on video is a huge difference. Of course the motivation and the accountability is also a big plus.

Craig:             Yeah, huge feedback that we get from people about how it’s amazing to be inspired by you and by Brian and by myself and by Shawna who’s also in the videos this time. It’s just the community that you don’t get from a book, you can get a little bit more of it from the Turbulence Training videos and then you can get the interaction from the Turbulence Training membership site, too. But it’s really, really motivating for people when they’re not interested in training to turn the video on and be inspired by “Oh yeah, these guys are going at it hard. I’m going to go at it really hard today, too.” We change our programs more frequently than any other DVD program that you’re going to get. So that’s why it’s really, really fantastic to have these videos.

Mike:              Very cool. Let’s talk about other fat loss programs and my question is where do you find that most of the fat loss programs fall short and what is it that we’re missing when it comes to fat loss?

Craig:             Well to be honest with you, I really only studied the ones that are most effective. My top trainers are Jason Ferruggia, John Romaniello, Alwyn Cosgrove so I speak with them mostly and I don’t get caught up in too much other stuff. But in general from people that go to the gym, the two biggest problems are they’re doing long slow cardio and they’re doing light intensity training just because they’re not interested in it or they don’t know any better. The other problem is that they don’t go in with a set routine so they just kind of wander around aimlessly. I’ve done that before, too, when I’m traveling and I was just too lazy to put something together. I really hate those workouts. They don’t come together very well.

                        So you have to get a good program, a good, structured professional program. Once you have that down, that’s really, really a big part of the program, a big part of your results, no matter almost who’s putting it together unless the trainer is really, really bad. Having that, increasing your intensity so that you can get in and out of the gym really quickly, those are the things that your program must deliver and then you go home and you have that extra time to put into your nutrition, which is so important. Those are the things that constitute a really good program.

With Turbulence Training, literally we’ve had thousands of success stories and we’ve been doing this for over a decade now. I’m just so dialed in with the latest experts that were above and beyond and advanced with the research but we’re also dialed in with the latest research, too. That’s why you get the tips and tricks that can make an exercise that’s already kind of tough, like the step up, into something that’s really, really effective.

Mike:              Absolutely, very cool. Now let’s talk about, let’s say we have a guy named Joe and he says, “Craig, I have my high school reunion coming up in just four weeks and I’m about 30 pounds overweight. What do I need to do in the next four weeks to lose as much fat as possible?” What would you tell that person?

Craig:             Well, that person has got to get dialed in on their nutrition and they need to also then start training consistently with intensity. Well, we can’t train them too hard. If someone’s 30 pounds overweight, they can’t be doing jumping and all that type of stuff that some of these DVDs are having people do. Nutrition is going help this person take the most body fat off him in the next four weeks so we have to figure out what’s best with him. Generally, the Eat. Stop. Eat. program has been one of the most effective when combined with Turbulence Training for our transformation contests. So we’re looking about knocking off 15 to 18 pounds in 30 days when someone goes from bad nutrition to good nutrition and uses the Eat. Stop. Eat. and then uses Turbulence Training.

If someone is working out already, we get them on the Buff Dudes and Hot Chicks program, which we filmed the follow along workouts for. If they’ve been kind of dabbling in workouts, we put them on the intermediate program. Then if they were brand new, we would put them on Beginner Turbulence Training where you could still lose a lot of belly fat but you just won’t be training as intensely. But you’ll be using a lot more bodyweight exercises and if you’re 30 pounds overweight it’s going to be pretty darn hard.

So we have a system for everybody that goes and gets put into place there. Our most advanced program in terms of results, the one that most of our transformation contest winners used, is the Buff Dudes and Hot Chicks program. Also one of the other ones that’s really popular is Thermogenic 30, which we also filmed follow along workouts for. These two are just really smashing successes and I’ve had people on those as quickly as possible but I still would not have them do more than four workouts of hard exercise per week. They still stay active on their off days but you can’t cram for fat loss like you cram for an exam. You’re going get overuse injuries. You’re going to hurt elbows, your knees, your shoulders or your back if you train too frequently with intense training. People are going to drop out and then they’re going to go to the reunion and be 40 pounds overweight because they dropped out and they started eating out of depression. So we have to train smart and train and eat properly.

Mike:              Awesome. And going back to that Buff Dudes and Hot Chicks, that is a definitely a good classic workout from the TT. I actually used that myself and I’ve used it with I think three to five of my clients and I had great successes. A matter of fact, Amber, who won first place three contests ago, she actually used that the last four weeks so it was kind of the climax to the end of her 12-week transformation. I can’t remember the exact pounds but I remember her losing a couple of dress sizes and just looking amazing. Of course, her husband was pretty excited about it as well. That’s a fantastic program. I’ve used it myself and in several clients as well.

Kind of rolling into that, I know that workout feed that had a pretty cool bodyweight interval program at the end. Let’s talk about finishers and let’s talk about what kind of finishers do you have in the TT 2.0 program and maybe what are one to two of your favorite finishers?

Craig:             We have finishers at the end of every workout. Now one of the things that I did recently is that 101 Reasons to Hate Craig Ballantyne workout. That was a lot of fun. Throwing the burpee in there at the end, doing them a certain number of reps before you could move on, I really liked that. Anything that is total body that we can get in there, total body movement, and then we also super set things with lower body, upper body, and total body ab exercises.

So at the very least that would be my big five as a finisher: squat, push, pull, single leg, total body abs. That’s fantastic. You do that for 30 seconds or 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. Then always the classic is the punisher, which is 20 seconds of squat, 10-second hold in that bottom position, and repeat that eight times because it’s the super most advanced bodyweight finisher that you can do. I did that, believe it or not, at a bathroom in an airport.

I was emailing my readers about that today on my trip to Europe because I just sat on an airplane for 12 hours and I had another 4 hour flight after that. I just needed to move around and I didn’t want to walk around with my bag on my shoulders throughout the entire workout. So I just crammed one of those workouts in in this giant bathroom with this shower and everything and there were tons of room so I just did the bodyweight workout in there. That was great.

Mike:              Absolutely. Of course I challenge everybody listening to throw that in at the end of your workout. Like you said, 20 squats and then hold that 10-second bottom position there and do that eight times. It will absolutely destroy your legs and it will make you walk funny at first when you’re done, but then you got all day energy from that because it’s so intense and it’s a great finisher after any workout.

Craig:             Yeah, I would definitely tell most people not to do that workout because they’re not ready for it. What I would say is try two rounds first and then next week come back and do another two rounds till you’re up to four. Then the week after that, try six and then finally, try eight. But you definitely do not want to just jump into that. That is not something that will not make people happy. It could leave them quite injured, to be honest with you, if they just go from never doing it to doing eight rounds of it so you’ve got to build up.

Mike:              Oh certainly. Definitely. I like the approach of doing an increase of two rounds each week. Going back to that 20-10 style, there was something specific that I remember when we did the filming and that was the plank and side variation of that. It was a really good finisher for my abs. What that was is we actually did a plank for 20 seconds and then for 10 second rest period—and it’s not really rest—you do a left side plank. Then you go back to a regular plank and then go to the other side plank for 10 seconds. So basically you’re doing 20 seconds of a regular plank and then a 10-second side plank and you do that for I believe four rounds. Of course if you wanted to try that, when you first do it just do two rounds or even just one round just to kind of ease into it but it’s a great way, it’s what I call a cool ab finisher. I remember doing that and my abs feeling pretty much, pretty tight for the rest of the day so it was a fantastic finisher there.

Now let’s talk about putting on muscle and losing fat. There are arguments on both sides. We see some experts that say that it can’t be done and of course, we see the other side as well. What are your thoughts on putting on muscle and losing fat at the same time? If it is possible, how do we do that?

Craig:             Well, it certainly is possible. Research even proves it. There was one study where they did a 10-week or maybe a 12-week circuit training program with men and women over the age of 60 and they gained four pounds of lean mass and lost four pounds of body fat over the 12 weeks, and all they did was that circuit training there times per week. There was no change in diet. There was no interval training or finishers. This is not the only study that people can do this in.

I’ve done studies where I’ve had guys—You can look this one up on PubMed if you’re a science nerd like I am. You can see the study. My name is on it, Ballantyne CS, and it’s where we studied protein and creatine supplements over eight weeks in young men. They gained an average of I believe six or eight pounds of lean mass. There was no gain in absolute body fat, meaning they didn’t gain pounds of fat but because they gained all that lean mass, they decreased their body fat o they looked leaner. There young men are also doing it. But it’s going to work best in beginners or people that are going from low intensity training to harder intensity training and using Turbulence Training, using my system and the right diet. Yes, you can do it.

Now if you want to be a bodybuilder, this is not the right approach for you. If you want to step onstage, you’ve got to go and get really, really big. Now you don’t have to eat fried chicken like some bodybuilders did in the magazine and made a big deal out of that and then they went on a hardcore diet. That’s not good for your health and that’s not necessary. Smart bodybuilders like Ben Pakulski, who we recommend here at Turbulence Training because he’s an intelligent body builder, they do gain as much muscle as possible and they don’t worry about losing fat, but they don’t get a lot of belly fat and then they don’t have to diet super extreme. It’s still extreme but it’s not as extreme as it used to be in the past.

So there are certain situations where yes, it will work. You won’t gain 40 pounds of muscle and lose 20 pounds of fat at the same time. It would be more like 10 and 5 and you’ll get great results. Most people only want to move their body composition by that much so it works for the Men’s Health readers who I deal with on a regular basis. I don’t deal with the muscle and the fitness magazine readers who often want more muscle. But that that, I do have the Meathead program for those people.

Mike:              Oh yes. I love the Meathead programs and I got a lot of good feedback from that. As a matter of fact, Danny Woodrum, another certified turbulence trainer, he and I actually did a meathead workout when we were in San Diego and it was another, I think it was the 5 by 5 that you put out recently and that was a solid system. Me, I think really there’s a meathead in all of us. It’s just that not all of us admit it.

All right, now let’s talk about a common theme. What I mean by that is we’ve had so many great transformation winners in your Turbulence Training contest and it seems like every contest the results were getting more and more shocking. We’ve just seen some great stories there, including Katherine, the TT Trainer of the Year. What would you say is the most common among these winners? Is it mindset? Is it their nutrition? What would you say the traits are?

Craig:             The common aspect is that there are five commonalities, that they had planning and preparation, they have social support, they have professional accountability, they have an incentive that’s personal to them, and they have the dead line. If you have all five of those, you’ll never go wrong. If you have four of them, you’ll get good results. But if you only have one or two, you will fail, period because you cannot have this transformation, at least one that’s going to last for more than a week. You’re not going to stick to something if you don’t have all five of those in place.

So you need better planning. If you’re going to be serious about this, you need to plan better. We have another contest coming up and we’d love for people to be involved in it, whether they’re using your programs, Mikey, or my programs. Everybody can be involved in it. So better planning and you could plan the nutrition and then you need use a professional program.

Then they need to have social support. You need to recruit positive people in their life. If they don’t have positive people in their life, they can go online to TT members or they can go to my Facebook page or your Facebook page and get social support from you and me, which will also provide them professional accountability. Research shows from Stanford that professional accountability, that is checking in with somebody who’s a professional whether it’s a nurse, doctor, nutritionist, or trainer, gives better results.

And then you need an incentive. You need to either reward yourself or punish yourself. So with our contests, we have an incentive of money for winning but most people, about three quarter and third halfway through or even a quarter way through, see the benefits of it and they realize that it’s not about the money, it’s about the change. So that’s important.

And then finally the deadline. There needs to be that light at the end of the tunnel, so 90 days, 12 weeks, 6 weeks, 28 days. There needs to be something where people can say, “I only have to do it for this long.” As you get closer to the deadline, you start to get your motivation back if it started to go away because you’re like, “Aw, the finish line is right here. It’s right here.” That’s super powerful so you need to get involved with that as well.

Those five things are what Katherine had, what Emily had, and what all the people in our recent contests had. If they get results, they have those, period.

Mike:              Very cool, and I certainly want to go back to the planning aspect of it. There’s one clip that you said on your Facebook quite a bit that I totally agree with and I think it’s very helpful and that is find two solutions for every obstacle that you have. In other words, if you know that you’re going to be going out to eat with your friends, figure out two ways that you’re not going to eat the chicken wings that everybody else is eating. That could be bringing your own things or planning ahead and taking a look at the menu online, figure out exactly what you’re going to order, and tell whoever it is that you’re going with, “This is what I’m going to eat”. But that one is very powerful as far as to figure out two solutions for every obstacle. I really like that one.

Craig:             Yeah, you make a great point, Mike. I just mentioned this the other day and it’s so possible now thanks to the internet. It’s going online and looking at the menu in advanced because I’ve been, like everybody else listening to this call, where you get to the restaurant and you know you want to eat healthy and you panic when you get the menu because you really don’t have time to look at it because you’re in conversation with people.

If you look at it in advance, you don’t have to go in and worry about ordering properly. You can figure out what’s appropriate for your goal. You can figure out what specific personal request you want to make, like can I combine chicken with this salad or whatever, or can we remove this? You can even call ahead and ask the restaurant. Being prepared like that—it’s just so simple. It’s only going to take you three to five minutes—is going to make a world of difference in your transformation and your results.

Mike:              Very cool. Good point. Now the last thing I want to talk about is what I’ve been so excited about. Of course, like I said earlier. I was a part of it so I got to literally see it in action, this Turbulence Training 2.0. Tell us. Spill the beans. What’s happening with 2.0? What can we expect from it and that kind of thing?

Craig:             Well, we have only a couple of weeks until that comes out. It’s so exciting because again it’s the ten-year anniversary. People have been doing this for years and years and years. They’ve been using the original program and all the cool new programs that we put out on a monthly basis. We have over 135 workouts but we haven’t really gotten into these follow along workouts until this year, which people really love their dumbbells and bodyweight, we have the Home Workout Revolution program, but this is the original Turbulence Training, the program that started it all, that really started a shift in the industry, not just in my business but in many people’s businesses, to use metabolic resistance training and interval training.

Now we’ve brought the latest science, the latest experience, because we work with tens of thousands of customers on a regular basis. Now we have the ability to bring the absolute best with the greatest video. I mean video is so easy to shoot in high definition these days. It really is a combination of my life’s work and I’m so excited to share it with people and help people get more results in less time, and really change the world, get people into the transformations contest that are free to enter where they could win my money and get amazing results, and be part of my Ten Million Transformation Mission, which is to help ten million men and women around the world to transform their bodies and their lives by the year 2020.

We’re on track to do this but we need everybody’s participation. We need everyone to get excited about it and we need to keep on pushing and doing our finishers and all that great stuff, Mike. I can’t thank you enough for all the great support and help that you’ve given me and been part of my mission and the trust and the hard work that you put into this. I really appreciate it.

Mike:              Absolutely. Very happy to do it and very glad to be a part of it.

Craig:             Fantastic.

Mike:              I’m so glad that you’ve taken the time to talk to us and I know you’ve got a full plate with the launch coming in just a couple of weeks. I’ll be sure to let my readers know all about that. Very excited about it. We appreciate you taking the time and talk to us.

Craig:             You have great questions, Mike. You’re always great to talk to and always great to work out with up there Lapeer, Michigan at Brian Kalakay’s studio. We’re going to be filming lots of workouts in the future, doing lots of these calls, and helping a lot of people so thanks, everybody. If you want to ever ask me a question, just drop by TurbulenceTrainingFanpage.com—that’s my Facebook page—and we answer every single question that’s there and we look forward to hearing from you.

Mike:              Awesome stuff. You heard it from the man himself. Of course, we are looking very forward to the Turbulence Training 2.0 launch. and we’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.

Craig:             Thanks Mike!

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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)


  1. Esther
    4 years ago

    A very nice reading to start my day. Thanks, can’t wait for TT 2.0

    p.s also love your programs mike :)


  2. Mikey
    4 years ago

    Thank you very much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. TT 2.0 is going to ROCK.

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