TrainSmart! Review


Pete Sisco


Pete Sisco is co-author of Power Factor Training, Static Contraction Training and other books. He is also the editor of the five-book "Ironman's Ultimate Bodybuilding" series and the author of the best-selling e-Book, TRAIN SMART! His partner, John Little, and him have written six books on rational, scientific methods of bodybuilding.

Who's it for?

I would recommend this book to the more seasoned weight trainer out there. Although the training programs in this book will benefit just about anyone, from seasoned body builder to weekend warrior. If you find yourself in a rut with your current training program or need that extra spark to get you back on the road to growth, than this book is for you.

This book is geared towards very heavy training.


Train Smart! by Pete Sisco is an eye opening piece of work from one of the more respected authorities on gaining strength and muscle. Pete's been around for quite some time and I've read his work before so I knew the material in this book would be very interesting. At first, I was a little skeptical because some of the claims were going against everything I've learned in weight training. From my experience, as you get bigger and stronger, it becomes harder and harder to gain extra strength and muslce. Not only that, it takes time and alot of patience. So, as soon as I looked at some of the claims of gaining strength and muscle, I wanted to check it out.

The book itself is an easy read. That is, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure things out and there are plenty of explanations, examples, and exercise photos that comes in very handy. The book is laid out in an organized manner and each chapter leads nicely into the other.

Train Smart! is about heavy training. Plain and simple. You won't find any mainstream training techniques in this book. The book focuses on the high intensity training principles that have been previously been pioneered by Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer (both of whom have greatly improved the science of body building). Mr. Sisco's theme is based on high intensity training but he takes it one step further, he actually measures intensity. According to Mr. Sisco, nobody has a clear definition of what exactly high intensity training is. Accordingly, there is an understanding that high intnsity training involves heavy lifting and fewer sets. However, there is no limit to determine if one workout is high intensity and another is not.

I think we can all agree that in order to get big and build muscle, you have to lift heavy weights. You have to lift heavy weight or stimulate the lifting of heavy weights in order to build bigger muscles. Why? Your body is designed to respond and adapt to stess. By forcing your muscles to do extra work and they will adapt to the new stress by growing bigger.

The higher the intensity the more your muscles will grow. So on a workout per workout basis, you must exert more intensity with each session. However, how do you measure intensity? Or better yet, how do your measure the intensity of each workout? According to earlier versions of the definition of intensity, it states that you must exert 100% momentary effort. Here is where the dilemna and the argument that Mr. Sisco makes. What if you exert 100% effort on a day when you are coming down with the flu, or have some serious stress happening. Your 100% effort will not trigger any new muscle growth because it will be less than last workout's 100% effort. According to Mr. Sisco, to get consistent progress you need a better way to measure the intensity of every exercise. You need a better way to ensure progressive overload of you muscles. And you need a better way to avoid overtraining.

Mr. Sisco has discovered a fantastic way to measure the intensity of each exercise, ensure progressive overload for each muscle group, and ensure optimal rest and recovery. How does he do it? To make a long story short, Mr. Sisco has developed Power Factor Training and Static Contraction Training. What is Power Factor Training? Ok, let's say on workout one, you lift 200 pounds in 20 seconds and has x amount of intensity. Now, let's say in your next workout you lift the same amount of weight in only 10 seconds instead of 20 seconds. In this case you have used 2x intensity which has doubled the amount of intensity of the workout. This means more muscle growth.

Now, let's say you bench pressed 200 pounds for 10 reps on Monday, then bench pressed the same 200 pounds for the same 10 reps on Thursday. Let's also assume that you rested 95 seconds on Monday and rested 70 seconds on Thursday. This means you might have made progress. Why? Because it took you 95 seconds on Monday and only 70 seconds on Thrusday and this means the intensity of the exercise has gone up. More intensity equals more muscle growth. So, if you did a bench press of 200 pounds for 10 reps in 70 seconds it would equal 2,000 pounds lifted per 70 seconds (2,000 mulitplied by 10). This is the birth of Power Factor Training, a true measurement of intensity. Let's say in your next workout you rested only 60 seconds, you would be lifting 2,000 pounds per 60 seconds.

Static Contraction training is a training method that has been proven to work. It delivers one of the highest and most efficient workouts possible. Wow, that's a quite a statement but it is very true. The key to Static Contraction Training is to use your strongest and safest range of motion. At these ranges of motion you are at your strongest. What the program does is use very heavy poundages at these points to further develop and use those parts of the muscle. Beleive me, this is not your standard workout!

These are very simplified versions, but it describes the core of Mr. Sisco's training methods. Mr. Sisco doesn't just describe his methods, he puts them to work. He has trained hundreds of clients with this method and they have all grown in strength and power. Even Tony Robbins gave his method a try and blasted through all previous training bests! This is described in detail in Mr. Sisco's book.

Once Mr. Sisco had a measurement of intensity, he came up with a workout. Now, this isn't your everyday training schedule, it's totally mind blowing!

Here is a sample case as described in his book:

A Typical Case

"I recieved a telephone call from a guy named Stanley, in Massachusett's, who had been making good progress with his training but had recently hit a plateau that he just couldn't get past. Stanley is one of those guys with a tough-minded discipline I can only admire. Despite his lack of progress in the gym, he did not get discouraged. He trained three days a week and he never missed a workout. That's not easy. Most of us get demoralized when we give so much effort in the gym and see nothing for our exertion. Not to mention the fact that it's very tough to drag yourself to the gym and perform a decent workout when it feels lik every fiber of your body is saying, "Stop, I can't do it today."

Stanley and I did not have to talk very long before I realized he had classic symptoms of overtraining. He lacked energy, he didn't feel like training and he had not made the slightest progress in many weeks. I explained this is the pit into which everyone falls as they get stronger. As your muscles become more powerful, they have the ability to perform workouts that really tax the rest of the body's organs like the liver, pancreas and kidneys. Those organs don't grow significantly along with the muscles so as you get stronger you have to cut back on training frequency.

I told Stanley to take three weeks off of all training. He said there was no way he could stay out of the gym that long. Actually, this is a common problem with serious bodybuilders. Mike Mentzer and I once talked about how he ran into the same resistance when he counseled "brief and infrequent" workouts. Phychologically, when you want to make progress, it is very difficult to do what seems like "nothing." Not training feels like throwingin the towel or admitting defeat in some way. But the truth is your body needs time to recover. Time off is not wasted time. it's time that is critical to the growth process. It took a lot of talk to convince Stanley but, to his credit, he took three weeks off of all training.

Two months later he called me back with results that will shock you. His strength increased in every area of his body and his shrug power had skyrocketed. His first workout after the layoff was a pesonal best. Now, he's training once every 9 days. That's 18 days between workouts for the same body parts. Before his correction, he was training 4 times in just 9 days. Look at the numbers that he sent me.

Stanley did not include his times for lifting so I don't know his Power Factor or Power Index numbers, but his total shrug weight went from 15,300 pounds to 25,280 after doing nothing for 3 weeks. When was the last time you had a 3 week period that was that productive?

October 11

365 pounds for 20 reps

400 pounds for 20 reps- very tough

November 8

405 pounds for 20 reps- easy

455 pounds for 20 reps

505 pounds for 16 reps

December 17

405 pounds for 20 reps

505 pounds for 20 reps

600 pounds for 12 reps

Think about that. Three weeks of not training, no supplements, no "light weight, high reps", nothing but sitting on his ass for three weeks and his progress outpaced everybody's. His training buddies couldn't believe their eyes. There's Stanley who found it "very tough" to do 20 reps with 400 pounds now hoisting 505 pounds for 16 - after doing 455 pounds for 20! Next time back in the gym he's playing with 600 pounds. And as far as his bone head buddies are concerned he "missed" the last 20 workouts! That's what I mean when I talk about "training smart." (Pete Sisco, TrainSmart! pg 21, para 2)

As you can see, his methods work and they are effective. I've personally tried his method and they do work. However, I've come to customize my workouts to include his principles. I don't train as long and I've cut my training time in half. I've been very pleased with the results and will continue to use his methods.

Here's a look at the table of contents:

8. The Truth About High Intensity Training (HIT)
10. The Genesis of Power Factor Training
14. The Genesis of Static Contraction Training
16. Alpha Strength and Beta Strength
20. Recovery
24. Maximum Overload
29. Warming Up
30. The Best Power Factor Training Workouts
50. Power Factor and Power Index Calculations
51. Specialization
53. The Best Shoulder Workouts
57. The Best Arm Workouts
64. The Best Back Workouts
66. The Best Back Workouts
72. The Best Abdominal Workouts
75. The Best Leg Workouts
79. Static Contraction
82. Keeping a Log
83. Static Contraction Training Workouts
87. The Tony Robbins Story
89. The 1,000 Shrug Story
91. How To Get Started
95. Training Frequency
97. How To Maintain
98. Frequently Asked Questions
103. Train Smart! Audio Seminar
104. More Information
109. Custom Engineered Workouts
110. Ultimate Information

I really enjoyed reading this book. Pete Sisco knows what he's talking about and has trained alot of people inlcuding top level bodybuilders. The book is easy to read and understand and I'm positive you'll learn something new that will bring you to new levels.

Building Muscle 101 gives this book a solid



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