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Mark Twight's Gym Jones
August 9, 2010 9:52 PM   Subscribe

Mark Twight, a prominent alpinist, is the founder of Gym Jones. His training of the actors of 300 has inspired "the 300 workout" as well as some detractors. (previously)
posted by Joe Beese (27 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The "300 workout" is only one of the many workouts the actors did with Twight over the time period they were trained, and Twight himself would not claim the workout is a "program" as such. People who decide they're going to do that workout over and over to get ripped are idiots who know nothing about strength-and-conditioning.
posted by schroedinger at 9:57 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have been working on a theory that camp appeals to straight people as much as gay people, and that there are certain types of camp that are specifically made by straight people for straight people, despite their homosexual undertones. Exhibit a is 300. Exhibit b is Al Pacino.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:01 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the detractors link:

The people who will get the best results are those who have trained before. They will quickly regain the muscle they once had, this is called muscle memory and is a well known and documented fact.

This "put muscle back on quickly" phenomenom might exist, but it certainly ain't called muscle memory.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:09 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


That Mark Twight sure is a lousy writer.
posted by nanojath at 10:09 PM on August 9, 2010


I'm all for anything that causes people to really look at what it takes to get as ripped as the actors in that movie became for the duration of filming. Personally, it did wonders for my body image.
posted by MrVisible at 10:17 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Different previously.
posted by BigSky at 10:23 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Outside ran a feature on Twight and Gym Jones a couple of years ago.

Best thing about Gym Jones is the name. (But Twight's wife came up with it.)
posted by grounded at 10:27 PM on August 9, 2010


This "put muscle back on quickly" phenomenom might exist, but it certainly ain't called muscle memory.
posted by uncanny hengeman


Actually, that's exactly what that "phenomenon" is called. It's pretty well documented and most anyone who has ever had any real size, cut, and then went to gain it back are quite familiar with it.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:11 PM on August 9, 2010


Actually, that's exactly what that "phenomenon" is called. It's pretty well documented and most anyone who has ever had any real size, cut, and then went to gain it back are quite familiar with it.

My mail is "muscle memory" relates to coordination, not hypertrophy. Let me just check...

Muscle memory, also known as motor learning, is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task; eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.

This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems. Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle or typing on a keyboard.


That's exactly what I remember being taught. But I notice some other links talk of this Johnny-come-lately, dumbed down definition of muscle memory.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:25 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's exactly what I remember being taught. But I notice some other links talk of this Johnny-come-lately, dumbed down definition of muscle memory.
posted by uncanny hengeman


I'm familiar with that definition. It's pretty commonly used for talking about regaining previous mass though.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:38 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mark had a goal to make these guys look really strong in a short amount of time so he aimed to remove as much fat as possible while retaining as much muscle mass as possible. The low body fat + painted abs will equal to the average person "teh ripped" and it looked great on film.

I think it's misleading if anyone thinks it take 10 hours in the gym a day to be as strong as those guys or look like they do. Looking like them is about 90% diet if that's your goal. Being as strong as them is within reach between 2-6 months of 3 days a week 1 hour training sessions for a dedicated male. As far as the 300 workout test, the 25 pull-ups is the hardest part. I've done it in just over 19 minutes (subbing chin-ups) and I'm still a beginner as far as I'm concerned.

I like Mark's own article on this.

The second misconception surrounds the idea of the Spartan workout, aka "300", how frequently it was done or who actually finished it. "300" is a one-time test, an invitation-only challenge undertaken by those deemed ready for it. By the end of our four-month project 17 people had done the workout (Logan and I were two of them). This constitutes about 50% of the cast and stunt crew. We supervised every test, evaluated each rep for quality and only counted those that achieved our standards for form and range of motion. Like many workouts "300" is not hard once you've done it but the apprehension built up ahead of it - something we encouraged - was enough to make some guys fear it to the degree that performance was compromised. This workout was a crucible that some passed through and others still have hanging over them.

The first misconception is that we used a bodybuilding-type program of progressive overload and over-feeding with the goal of making the guys look huge. We took the opposite route of calorie restriction to make them look like they lived off the land, in the wild, all sinewy and ripped. The diet was adequate to fuel effort and recovery, barely
posted by zephyr_words at 11:49 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


That Mark Twight sure is a lousy writer.

I should like to point out Twight's excellent and very entertaining book "Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber." One need not be a good writer to write a good book.
posted by three blind mice at 12:33 AM on August 10, 2010


Guys, guys. Your muscles can remember more than one thing. Do you think your muscles are stupid?
posted by ardgedee at 3:11 AM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I blame my overhanging gut on ' Fat Memory".
posted by lobstah at 5:18 AM on August 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Gym Jones is a terrible name. I image their motto as being "Our Kool-Aid tastes of HEALTH," and then I'd have to protest it, picketing with a sign that said "Jim Jones used Flavor-Aid!" And the some other pedants would picket me, their signs reading "Actually, there is evidence he used both Flavor-Aid AND Kool-Aid!"
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:31 AM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


My son worked out with the 300 group prior to the start of filming. They showed up in Montreal months before the filming started, the workouts were daily. I've watched videos of the routines, they were grueling.

Did they work? When I showed up on the set during the shooting I was sitting watching some monitors of what was happening in the next room where the green screens were set up (sitting, by the way, with Frank Miller and a couple of other people) and a group of "Spartans" walked into the room. I swore, on seeing them, that they were wearing prosthetics, nobody could be that defined... I was wrong...

/ This explained why I was not able to be an extra in the battle scenes...
posted by HuronBob at 5:37 AM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Even if the workouts worked in order to bring these guys up to "ripped" for the shoot, there's no way that something that taxing on joints and so repetitive could be sustained. Any grueling, heavy-weight, cardio-intensive workout will build muscle and reduce fat...provided it's combined with the right diet. (Bodybuilders say, "Abs are made in the kitchen." ) But no matter how good your workouts are, the most important part of bodybuilding is rest. Your muscles don't grow while you're using them, you're actually making small tears in the muscle, which is then re-built as you rest.
posted by xingcat at 5:57 AM on August 10, 2010


Astro Zombie, it makes more sense when you consider that it's a CrossFit derivative. I wonder if the injury rates under Twight's program are as apalling.
posted by indubitable at 6:03 AM on August 10, 2010


My wife is a trainer - and is very interested in the methodology of Gym Jones. The guy is seriously brilliant, and he was brilliant enough to be able to train the absolute elite in atheletes.

As for gym jones - read the website. Every workout they do is on the site. Every work out is different. These guys train like atheletes and they train seriously. Form is what he views as key - and that means that if you don't do it perfectly that it didn't count (and you do it again). These guys aren't training hurf durf butter eaters. They start with athletes and then they push them to an entirely different level.

Seriously. Sit down at an erg and row a 100K meters. Even if I were back in college shape I think it would take me at least 3 hours (there's a redefinition of hitting a wall). They train as a group and do it around the 2:15 mark.

Hell, consider the tire they are flipping in one of their videos is a 300 pound tire. Seriously. It is 300 pounds. They flip it and jump through it. It isn't a small challenge.

Mark Twilight has developed a business model which is probably not something you'll see open up around your corner. Hell, most gyms won't even let you do a portion of the things he's doing. But, he has cut himself a niche that everybody really wants, but the reality is it would be nigh impossible to find a strong enough client base of people willing to or able to financially devote themselves to it in the way the way that he has.

Take pieces of it, tone it down and incorporate it into your workout though, and you'll probably see some decent results.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:14 AM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Indubitable, as much as they would like you to believe it, Crossfit did not invent the concept of heavy circuit training . . . That's an old S&C staple.

This "muscle memory" thing is two different things. "Muscle memory", put strictly, refers to motor patterns ingrained in your CNS. The "building mass faster" that other people talk about reflects an underestimation of how long it takes for gained muscle mass to deteriorate. Takes a lot longer than cardiovascular capacity. When people take six months off from the gym and find their mass gains are coming much easier, it's simply the muscle mass they already had getting the "pump" after a long time of having none--that is, blood flow causing tissue expansion.
posted by schroedinger at 7:16 AM on August 10, 2010


Former "Real World" cast member turned YouTube fitness guru Scott Herman made a video of himself doing the "300 workout" - and for fun he had a leather loincloth made for him to do it in.
posted by dnash at 7:28 AM on August 10, 2010


dnash:
Former "Real World" cast member turned YouTube fitness guru Scott Herman made a video of himself doing the "300 workout" - and for fun he had a leather loincloth made for him to do it in.


See also AstroZombie's theory earlier in the thread.


(Complaining I am not - though I am glad my cube neighbors are out of the office today; they already think I'm 'that guy', I don't need any help when I accidentally click on things I shouldn't.)

posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:25 AM on August 10, 2010


Also, I would never describe what Gym Jones does as Crossfit... seriously, that's a gross mis-representation.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2010


I would never describe what Gym Jones does as Crossfit

If you read the Outside magazine piece linked above, Twight specifically says it's not Crossfit, although it evolved from it. Twight used to do Crossfit, but discovered that because it's so general it actually can lead to decreased performance if you're trying to train for a specific sport.
posted by dnash at 12:32 PM on August 10, 2010


Seriously. Sit down at an erg and row a 100K meters. Even if I were back in college shape I think it would take me at least 3 hours (there's a redefinition of hitting a wall). They train as a group and do it around the 2:15 mark.

I'm not sure where these numbers came from, but they have no basis in reality. A 2 hr 15 min 100,000 m row works out to a 40.5 second/500m split, which is absurd -- a very good time in CRASH-B for a 2,000 m sprint would be 6:00, which works out to a five hour 100k (and nobody would be able that up for 100k). I'm not sure how a 100k row is "training like an athlete", anyway, unless you're some kind of ultra-endurance rower.

Hell, consider the tire they are flipping in one of their videos is a 300 pound tire. Seriously. It is 300 pounds.

Seriously. That is not an impressive weight. Unless you're a woman or small child, and then maybe.

These guys aren't training hurf durf butter eaters. They start with athletes and then they push them to an entirely different level.

OK, so which athletes is he training? NFL players? Track athletes? Swimmers? How many of them have stayed competitive since adding crazy programming like 100k rows to their training regimen?
posted by indubitable at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2010


Also, I would never describe what Gym Jones does as Crossfit... seriously, that's a gross mis-representation.

Why not? When I checked this out before it looked awfully Crossfit-ty to me. I checked around and found an article that compared the two. Of course it was done by a Crossfitter so his critique is kind of useless. That article even quotes Twight as saying:
“What we do, and what CrossFit does,
it’s the same stuff. But training must be individualized or
after a certain point you make no progress.”
Individualized training is always going to be infinitely better than than some generalized workout plan. Actually, the Crossfit workouts always look like someone threw some chicken bones into a chalked up circle and read them to get their WODs. Not that I care one way or the other, as long as people like it and it gets them into the gym.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:26 PM on August 10, 2010


posted by indubitable at 2:58 PM on August 10 [+] [!]
I'm not sure where these numbers came from, but they have no basis in reality. A 2 hr 15 min 100,000 m row works out to a 40.5 second/500m split, which is absurd -- a very good time in CRASH-B for a 2,000 m sprint would be 6:00, which works out to a five hour 100k (and nobody would be able that up for 100k). I'm not sure how a 100k row is "training like an athlete", anyway, unless you're some kind of ultra-endurance rower.


I stand corrected. I misrememberd both the distance and the time.
http://www.gymjones.com/schedule.php?date=20100501

2:44 for a 42,195m (1:57/500m splits)
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:02 AM on August 11, 2010


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