ARX results pt. 1

As I’ve previously documented, I’ve been doing just 10 minutes of ARX work per week as a means to help prepare for an ultramarathon I’ll be running this fall. However, I’ve been excited about the fact that the ARX has a long history of adding muscle to even the most stubborn gainers. I’m a bro at heart, even if I despise all that bros represent. So is 10 minutes per week enough to deliver? 

The answer is yes:

01/28/2016: 138.4lbs lean, 30.6 lbs fat

05/23/2016: 139.7lbs lean, 29.6lbs fat

Delta: 1.3lbs lean increase, 1 pound fat decrease

My first ARX workout wasn’t even until early February, so from ~ 2 hours of training, I put on a pound+ of a muscle. I didn’t change at all from the 8 months prior (05/2015-01/2016) and actually added some fat. Now I’m both leaner and larger.

Not only was the change real, but my lifestyle isn’t suited for lean gains. I don’t get enough sleep (I have a teething 9-month-old and a 2 and a half-year-old that slips into bed like a midnight ninja), I have adequate life circumstances that have kept me busy, oh and I’m training for an ultramarathon (albeit with little volume). I’m also not trying to eat to gain muscle, remember that I just abide. No force feeding or anything like that.

As a bonus, I’ve lost what little visceral adipose tissue I have (down to 0.07lbs) and gained a 10th of a pound of bone, keeping me 1.5 standard deviations above the mean.

Is there a downside? Only if you don’t understand how the body works: prior to taking on the ARX, I trained in my garage bodyweight-only using a Project Kratos template. This was an enjoyable way for my to push myself and not have to leave home. This past Monday was Memorial Day and it was just impossible to get into Efficient Exercise, so I revisited a Kratos workout and found mixed improvements. For example, I was able to add 10lbs to a couple exercises (pushups & single leg split squats) above my previous performances; legs were in fact really strong and could have added another 10 lbs and made the maximum rep count. However, pull up performance was less than January. I’m not surprised: specific adaptation to imposed demand still rules. That said if I added a set of pushups and chins on Thursday, I’m sure that my performance would quickly improvement.


Update 6/2/2016

So today I did another workout like I did on Memorial day (3 days ago) and improved my numbers on the upper body exercises back exactly to where they were in February (Chin, Dip, and Blast Strap Row), while also increasing the reps from my weight vest added pushup. Again, practicing the thing makes you better at the thing, but ARX made me bigger.

10 thoughts on “ARX results pt. 1

  1. Really enjoyed this run of posts Skyler and congrats on the gains.

    I take your point on practicing the skill of choice but from your experiences thus far do you think 1 set close to failure once or twice per week for the bodyweight exercises would have kept you progressing on them longer term? Or do you feel a more typical skill based training model (i.e. practicing the lifts more frequently in a multi set format but further away from failure) would be a better route?

    I ask as someone who is interested in improving performance (mainly reps) in a few pet bodyweight lifts over the long haul in the most efficient and safest manner (i.e. least wear and tear on joints).

    I appreciate this may be a little off topic but I would appreciate your insight.

    1. Carl,

      I think if I had done a “Grease the groove” style of practice, I certainly would have gotten even better still. My point was that performance is still specific and that you can make up the gap relatively quickly.

      To your question, if you care about the numbers, frequent practice is hard to beat. You might find that periodic “deep practice” where volume goes way up may get you past a sticking point, before returning to a baseline. But then you’ll reach a point where you have to ask “What the hell am I doing this for?!”

      1. I am currently doing once a week no equipment “big six” of Wall Sit, Squat, Push Up, Straight Bridge, Pike Push Up, Floor Row to failure without consideration for TUL or anything else.
        Subjectively it feels I added muscle, t-shirts way tighter at the back, bigger legs.
        It’s pretty cool, removes many doubts and allows me to really “fail”, taking the ego and focus on weights out of equation. With dumbbells I sometimes felt grip as the limiting factor.
        I was thinking twice a week would be needed, the training doesn’t feel as heavy, but now I believe it’s ok like this, at least I spend some days above baseline. I consider picking up running though, as a hobby, because just walking and HIT is quite boring and I don’t get much of an endorphine rush and head clearance.

      2. That might not be a bad idea. Consider Clarence Bass’s recommendation: strength training once per week, do some sort of “cardio” that you’re using toward a goal another day per week. In his case, he likes to compete online via the various Concept 2 machines, so he does those. If you want to chase a running goal, go get the “Low Mileage Running” book (or go to, choose your distance, and just do the “primary” workout) and train for that from his suggestions.

        After I’m done with this Ultramarathon goal, I’ll be doing that: running 1 day per week from that plan and training HIT 1 day per week.

  2. Skylar,

    I’ve been using Clarence bass’s approach for the past 20 years. One weight workout on Saturday, and then walk about 3.5 miles through hilly terrain with a 60 lb vest on Sunday. Try to walk at about a 16 min a mile pace. That’s it.

    Love your work and insights… of the few sane people in,a world of morons.

  3. Skyler,
    Are you only doing the 10 minutes of arx work to prepare, or are you training in addition to the arx for the specific tasks you’ll need to accomplish during the ultra marathon?

    1. Blain,

      I’ve been doing 10 minutes of ARX work plus specific workouts for the event. Total weekly time has been right around an hour. Check the rest of the series for more details!

  4. I known DEXA is considered more accurate than other methods for body fat and muscle mass determination, but it is still subject to errors related to glycogen levels and hydration. Are changes on the order of 1 LB in fat or muscle mass large enough to be considered significant? Seems like that might fall within the noise of the measurement.

    1. Craig,

      Based on the literature I’ve seen, the DEXA is very precise, and this bears out with the DEXAs I’ve had over the years. The measures have been consistent between each other, with no change of even half a pound on lean mass (but consistent fluctuations in fat mass from holidays versus summer, for example). So a net positive of more than double, given the measurement history (same DEXA, same technician) is a positive, motivating trend that shows some difference between where I was without ARX and where I am now with ARX.

      Great question!

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