Zero, Dense and Standards are my 3 classic programs. They are the culmination of 10 years of gradual success at reverse engineering pain, aging, and lack of athleticism. They have created over 2,000 knee success stories, along with thousands more for the rest of the body.
Zero is a bodyweight rebuild from the ground up.
Dense is a gradual approach to dominating additional load for many sets within a given timeframe, rather than rushing into heavy loads.
Then in Standards, the idea is to test your abilities in 20 different areas, and thus find out more about your strengths and weaknesses relative to the thousands of others who have done my system. A “Standard” is simply a measurable ability that by actual test most people can’t do, but through competent coaching, most people can achieve! Each Standard is unorthodox compared to traditional exercise, but each Standard follows simple, evidential clues for greater longevity.
Powerlifting, Bodybuilding, Olympic Weightlifting, CrossFit, Gymnastics, Strongman… these are all sports.
My goal for the ATG (Athletic Truth Group) system is to engineer human bulletproofing which can help all the above sports as well as every other sport and every other person of any age or ability.
After I had thoroughly lived and polished Zero, Dense, and Standards, I then wasted time trying to figure out a more “advanced” program, a “4th layer.” But I already got more results than I ever dreamed of from Zero-Dense-Standards!
As someone who reached my 20s with chronic knee pain since age 12, with a partially artificial kneecap, quad tendon repair, and cadaver meniscus, having never once grabbed a basketball rim, to now reach my 30s dunking with ease and having played about a thousand times without a knee setback, and with full body bulletproofing beyond what I imagined possible, I realized I needed to…
START. BACK. OVER.
So now I’m on “Advanced” Zero.
I know: These concepts sound contradictory.
But what if we kept the ground-up philosophy of Zero and added equipment and weights? There is no evidence of this having ever been done on a broad scale.
But in society we continue to see pain and injury and surgery stats soar, with experts projecting those already-skyrocketing stats on an even higher trajectory as this decade goes on! Something’s gotta CHANGE.
With Advanced Zero, I’ve never been more confident that I’ll be one of the most athletic people on Earth relative to my age, for the rest of my life.
Every aspect of the program centers around the concept of “build from the ground up.” Even the hip and upper body work builds from the ground up!
The exact schedule is:
Monday: Loaded Legs
Tuesday: Bodyweight Hips & Upper
Thursday: Bodyweight Legs
Friday: Loaded Hips & Upper
On Mondays we start from our ankles and then gradually work our way up: shins, then knees and then thighs.
On Tuesdays we pick back up by training our hips in 4 directions, then we gradually work our way up through our spine and shoulders.
Wednesdays and weekends are off, which ensures recovery. Half our exercises are with weights and half are with our own bodyweight.
This is also very convenient when traveling because we have bodyweight counterparts for every loaded exercise. You could even lean the other way and use more weights.
But my advice would be to follow the program as-is. Long-term, I don’t think we can cheat that balance of mastering our own bodies and mastering additional loads.
Without further ado, let’s dive in and take each session in order!
ADVANCED ZERO PART 1: MONDAY’S LOADED LEG DAY
PART 1: CHAPTER 1: THE TIBIALIS RAISE
The Tibialis Raise is still the first step on leg days, just like in Zero.
It is the “first line of defense” for longevity because it affects every step you take, as well as the most intense jumps and decelerations if you play sports. This allows you to maintain a higher quality of life longer, giving you a competitive advantage because your joints can handle more force...
So if I had nothing but the Bodyweight Tibialis Raise from Zero for the rest of my life, I would be happy!
But in Advanced Zero, we now have two different leg days:
So in our Bodyweight Leg Day, we still use the Bodyweight Tibialis Raise.
But in our Loaded Leg Day, we add weights!
There are 5 reasons why we load the Tibialis…
Whether you use a kettlebell, a dumbbell (strapped up via Nordic Strap or Floss Band), a Tibialis Bar, or the newest - the IsoTib - you get an exact measurement to compare to yourself as the weeks, months, years roll on…
Having an exact measurement can make training more fun and more productive because there’s more motivation to push harder. When you push harder at something that doesn’t hurt your joints but does challenge your muscles, you can create adaptation to that muscle so it becomes stronger.
However, when a joint doesn’t get worked through its full range of motion, it decays sooner, bringing us to a quote from Dr. Bahram Jam, and to point number two:
“Every joint in our body has synovial fluid in it. This is the oil in our body that provides nutrition to the cartilage. Two things are required to produce that fluid: movement and compression. So if a joint doesn’t go through its full range - if the hips and knees never go past 90 degrees, the body says ‘I’m not being used,’ and starts to degenerate and stops the production of synovial fluid.”
While the Bodyweight version does allow you to get excellent strengthening and good range of motion, it does not supply as much load to the stretched position. This has been gold for people with ankle issues, and I’ve personally received over a dozen messages from clients who canceled ankle surgeries because this solved their problems. I am merely relaying what I was told. Prior to the loading of the tibialis through a full range of motion, it would have been impossible to get maximum natural healing of the ankle.
Now take a look at the bar above and let’s think about…
Someone who isn’t strong enough to do the Bodyweight Tibialis Raise can start the loaded version with one pound, two pounds, etc.! This is a breakthrough for the fields of longevity and rehabilitation.
But on the note of rehabilitation, someone recovering from a broken leg, for example, would have one side significantly weaker than the other…
And that was the primary reason for creation of the IsoTib...
As much as I love the Tib Bar, I’m now using the IsoTib instead because it ensures perfect balance between sides as I continue training. The IsoTib is the most expensive of the above options ($241 USD), but keep in mind that it takes a lot of time and money to invent a new product, not to mention then making it yourself, with your own staff, rather than outsourcing it to a country with cheaper wages.
My good friend “The Home Gym Guy” reached out to me last year with a simple question: “What needs to be made that isn’t?”
I knew the answer immediately: “a Tibialis bar.”
You see, the concept of a Tibialis loading device was conceived by Bob Gajda, a champion bodybuilder who went on to become a miracle worker at extending pro sports careers.
His model went by the name of “DARD,” an acronym for Dynamic Axial Resistance Device. It never became popular, and by the time I came around and popularized Tibialis training, the DARD was no longer being produced anywhere.
Now, my original intent was single-leg version, and The Home Gym Guy had the same vision once the Tib Bar began changing lives.
The story behind this picture is that my wife woke up at 2 a.m. to find me scheming on how to add a weight to the foot. I’d realized this was necessary for ankle training, and she described what I rigged up the next morning. This is actually a “Thor’s Hammer” wrist training device. It works absolute miracles for the wrist, and the ankle is just the wrist of the leg!
Which brings us directly to…
Once you’ve had one ankle sprain, you’re 4 times more likely to have another. Prior to unilateral Tibialis loading, you were stuck with some degree of scar tissue and weakness in the lateral aspects of your ankle, but by doing your Tibialis Raises with a slow and circular motion, you can restore strength in the exact spots you lost it! I had an ankle sprain that affected me for 4 years after the initial sprain. Within 2 months of “The ATG Ankle Exercise,” all past effects were gone.
Lastly, consider that while the most “expensive” Tibialis loading device, the IsoTib, is $241, that’s a tiny fraction of the money I spent on treatments for my ankles, shins, and knees.
Not only is surgery itself costly, the drugs, treatments, and supplements after surgery can be even more costly!
$10,000+ in treatments that didn’t work for me left me with a very different viewpoint on the word “expensive” in relation to an exercise that I can use the rest of my life!
The 5 points above explain why I now use the IsoTib in addition to the Bodyweight Tibialis Raise.
In terms of reps, I find that the 10-20 range works best, meaning: if you can do 20 reps, the weight is too light. But if you can’t do 10, the weight is too heavy. If you fail somewhere in between, you can keep the weight the same.
What’s really cool is that the Tibialis is an antagonist (meaning opposite) muscle to Steps 2 through 6, so rather than sitting around waiting between sets, we can do 1 set of Loaded Tibialis, then complete Step 2, another set of Loaded Tibialis, complete Step 3, another set of Loaded Tibialis, complete Step 4, another set of Loaded Tibialis, complete Step 5, a fifth and final set of Loaded Tibialis, and then move on to Step 6. I know you probably understood the concept without me writing all that out, but I wanted to be extra clear.
So that’s 5 sets of Loaded Tibialis Raises to tap-out, without wasting time resting!
Even once realizing the value of the Tibialis Raise, it can be so tedious to actually apply as much as we should, but with this little strategy of only doing it between other exercises, we can smoothly make an investment in the rest of our lives that is not to be underestimated!