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CrossCore®, Accomplishing the Impossible – Resistance Training for Large Groups

CrossCore HardCore Push-Up Varation

No one has ever been able to figure out a way to successfully conduct a hardcore progressive resistance class in a large group setting. Effective resistance training, hardcore resistance training produces measurable, quantifiable improvements in physique and performance. Hardcore progressive resistance experts use free-weights, barbells and dumbbells, to near exclusion.

Free-weights, used with great expertise, dig the deepest possible muscular inroad. Barbells and dumbbells are the progressive resistance gold standard tools and hardcore training methodology is the gold standard resistance protocol.

Nothing about hardcore training lends itself to being done in a large group setting. To practice high-level hardcore resistance training requires a barbell, plates, dumbbells, lots of accessory equipment, a flat bench, a bench that inclines, squat racks or a safety power rack, a chin bar, all of which creates clutter and requires floor space. And this assumes that the trainee knows how to make expert use of free-weights—which is highly unlikely.

Barbell training, done right, is best done in small groups of usually no more than four trainees. The small group clusters around the barbell (or dumbbells) and each athlete in turn performs the chosen exercise, round-robin style. The CrossCore® enables the user to obtain free-weight results from a portable training device. The compactness of the CrossCore® allows the trainee to conduct a serious strength-training workout within four square feet of space and without needing any other progressive resistance accessories or devices.

The results obtained from the highly unstable CrossCore® exceed results obtained from progressive resistance machines that mimic free-weight exercises. Progressive resistance machines lack instability, due to their frozen "groove." Instability is a plus for building strength and muscle. Because machines lack the 3rd dimension of tension, the need to control side-to-side movement, the unstable free-weights and the equally unstable CrossCore® are physiologically superior to a machine that mimics free-weight exercise.

CrossCore® HardCore Roots

Over the past four years, the CrossCore® tool and the HardCore strength training methodology has been vetted by world champion strength athletes and active duty Tier I spec ops fighters. The HardCore method was born in the Spec Op community and was developed and tested on the strongest of athletes and fittest of soldiers. Strategies were devised that enabled us to tax these super athletes and super soldiers up to, and then past their awesome capacities. While working with the spec ops community, it became apparent that no-compromise resistance training could be taught to large groups of people.

Strength Training 101

How would a CrossCore® HardCore strength training class look and feel? Here is a sample scenario…

The CrossCore® HardCore "Strength Training class" was held in a racquetball court that management had converted into an all-purpose fitness room: the entire back wall was taken up with a recently installed climbing wall. The room was used for indoor volleyball and yoga classes. Along both long walls ran room-length chinning bars that created anchor-points for CrossCore® devices.

The class was packed with people of all types and descriptions including out-of-shape beginners and elite athletes. This mix of levels was possible because the exercises and techniques used were identical for everyone. The difference was in the "payload," the amount of resistance and tension required to tax the CrossCore® user.

A far heavier payload is needed to maximally tax an elite athlete then say a beginner performing the identical exercise in the identical way. The beginner might use 1/10th the payload of the advanced athlete—but both can work up to 100% of their respective capacities and both can trigger the adaptive response.

The CrossCore® units hung from the chin bars that lined each wall. Strength training class participants had signed up for a ten-week course and this was week three. The instructor entered the room and got everyone’s attention. He gathered them into a circle to explain what was about to happen. The participants would be put through a "whole body" strength-training program consisting of nine exercises that worked (virtually) every muscle of the human body.

These exercises would be performed in a purposefully specific order using highly specific techniques. Participants met once a week and were expected to perform the same program 2-3 times per week on their own. Sessions could be done at home if the attendee owned a CrossCore®, or here at the club as there were always a dozen CrossCore® units left hanging and available in this room.

The instructor called his senior student up front to demo the first exercise, the "slumping chest press." The technique was explained in detail as each aspect of the exercise was demonstrated and described in depth and detail. The participants then returned to their stations. Each began to perform the CrossCore® chest press; the instructor again repeated the step-by-step verbal instruction and talked everyone through the eight-rep set. As he talked, he walked along and made posture or footing corrections on an individual basis.

As the set proceeded, grunts of exertion broke out around the room at around rep five. As they finished rep seven, he said, "Remember! The ideal final rep is the barely completed rep! Equalling and exceeding our limits and capacities are where the big gains are; past our current limit is where the muscle and strength is hiding!"

At any point during the chest press set, the payload could be modified with a slight shift in the feet. This characteristic is unique to the CrossCore® and separates and differentiates it from all other progressive resistance tools: the CrossCore® trainee has the unique ability to alter a payload during each rep of a set. The CrossCore® user can make instantaneous increases or decreases in the payload as each rep is occurring. This is unprecedented.

  • The first few reps of the set can be done with a light payload to warm the muscles and groove in the technique. Light payloads are offset with "intensity enhancers," purposefully slowed rep speed, pauses and extended ROM.
  • The middle reps of the set are made heavier by shifting the feet fore or aft. Precise technique is retained while resistance is increased. The moderate resistance middle-set reps prepare the body for the all out final reps.
  • The final reps of the set are purposefully made maximally difficult. The trainee’s duty is to maintain perfect technique while modulating the payload in order to achieve the "barely made" final rep.
The perfect CrossCore® set always ends with the trainee exerting 100% maximum effort and barely completing the last rep of the set. The class ran through nine exercises in 50-minutes: slumping chest-press, row, Superman press, I-Y-T, curl, triceps extension, squat, lying leg curl and ab sizzler. One set of each exercise with the final reps of each set punctuated by grunts of pure exertion. The CrossCore® allowed each trainee to exert 100%, yet do so safely and without fear of injury.

By the end of class, every participant, from pro athlete to out of shape housewife, had undergone a highly effective, muscle-building, strength-infusing work out. The class collectively experienced a predictable post-workout endorphin rush, the kind of pleasurable hormonal cocktail (adrenaline, endorphins and growth hormone) that is only released in response to intense physical effort. Each class member had experienced nine 100% efforts and everyone was awash in post-workout endorphin bliss; the kind of feeling that keeps them coming back for more.

The attendees would work out during the week on their own at home or in this same room. Over time, the instructor shared with the group the numerous variations on the basic exercise themes: each of the nine core exercises had many variations, single limb pushing and pulling, paused reps, varied rep speeds and differing rep combinations. These subtle and overt variations kept the training fresh and vibrant and prevented staleness and stagnation.

This was user-friendly strength training: safe, clean, no clutter, no danger, no need for resistance tools or accessories, and no need for expensive machines. The students loved it because they realized dramatic improvements in physique and performance. The club loved it because it allowed for lucrative group instruction.

This type of training was safe—and cheap. For everyone involved, the happy club member, the club, the CrossCore® Strength Training instructor, the whole situation was "win-win." Strength Training 101 becomes a reality.
Mike Krivka Training Robert Miller CrossCore

The Magical Dumbbells

Imagine a pair of magical dumbbells. They are magical because whatever poundage the user wants them to be, they become that poundage instantaneously. If you were to pick up the magical dumbbells and wanted them to weigh 40 pounds each, they would immediately weigh 40 pounds each. By changing your mind you are able change the poundage of each magical dumbbell.

Pick up the 40s and press them overhead a few times. How do they feel? A little light? Just think to yourself ‘adjust to 50s’—and the weight of the bells instantly jumps 10 pounds for each bell. You now press the 50s for three reps and think, ‘I got a little more left’ so in your mind you think, ‘adjust to 60s.’ You are able to handle the 60s for two tough reps—but that’s it, you cannot get another rep with 60s—but wait, you want to keep the set going, so you think, ‘adjust back to 40s.’

The magical bells instantaneously drop in weight and you "rep out" with 40s. You perform five perfect "burn-out" reps with the 40s before the lactic acid sets your shoulders on fire and you must quit. Because of this magical ability to alter the payload between reps or even during a rep, the warm-up sets, the interim moderate weight set, the all-out top set and the self-administered forced reps (in the form of a drop-set procedure) are all compressed into a single extended set. You can do a "One-and-Done" set if you own magical dumbbells.

The magical dumbbells exist: the CrossCore® used in full rotational mode has this magical characteristic, this unique attribute that sets it apart from all other resistance training devices: the ability to alter the resistance, the payload, the tension, between reps and during reps. The CrossCore® is the magic dumbbells. The CrossCore® user simply shifts or shuffles his feet forward or rearward, a matter of a few inches, and adds 10-40 pounds of resistance instantly.

The experienced CrossCore® user develops a balletic flow as they glide forward and back to "tune the set," make the set end on the precise predetermined, preselected number of reps for that set. Iron Immortal, Mr. Universe Bill Pearl once noted in an interview, "Does the muscle really care what tool was used to make it grow and strengthen?" As long as the muscle grows and strengthens, as long as there are real gains and measurable results, as long as our training nets us increases in power, size, athletic strength and improved body composition—what difference does it make what tool was used?

The magical dumbbells already exist. Assuming you are smart enough to know how to optimally operate them.

Marty Gallagher has been involved in high-level athletics for over 50 years. He captured his first national title and set his first national records as a 17-year old teenage Olympic weightlifter in 1967. In May of 2013 he set his most recent national records as a 64-year old powerlifter. He won the 1992 IPF world masters powerlifting title and has taken silver and bronze medals in world championships. He is a six-time national champion masters powerlifter.

As a coach he guided Team USA to the IPF world team title in 1991 and coached Black’s gym to five national powerlifting team titles. He was mentored by the 1st world powerlifting champion Hugh "Huge" Cassidy and Gallagher in turn mentored hall-of-fame powerlifting world dominator "Captain" Kirk Karwoski. Gallagher competition coached Ed "King" Coan, the world’s greatest powerlifter, along with iron immortals Doug Furnas, Lamar Gant and Mark Chaillet. Marty works with the military elite spec ops fighters (in this country and abroad) along with governmental special units within various agencies.

As a writer Gallagher is widely read and considered one of the finest writers operating within the health, nutrition, bodybuilding, strength and athletic training genre. He has had over 1,000 articles published since 1978, including 232 weekly ‘ask the expert’ fitness columns for the and 89 articles published during a ten year relationship with Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazine. Gallagher’s biographic on Ed Coan was called, "the greatest powerlifting book ever written," by the late Joe Weider. Rock star Henry Rollins called the Coan book, "Awesome!" Dr. Jeff Everson described Gallagher’s Magnus opus,
The Purposeful Primitive" A literary masterpiece." Gallagher lives in rural Pennsylvania.