Next post

The Secret Is Out (Building a Diamond)

The Secret Is Out (Building a Diamond)

Thanks to my good friend Bryan Krahn, the programming I’ve been using with my clients and myself for 13 years as a combo metabolic conditioning/strength building/boredom smashing workout has been made public. If you missed his post, you can read it here:
He calls it the “Kidney Shitter”. I’ve always called it a “Ladder,” but since the former is scary and the term “Ladder” is used for a different type of strength programming, I have decided to call it the “Diamond Protocol”. This sounds very James Bond-ish and sexy, and it actually describes the layout of the program well.

The Options: I’ve used this same protocol in a variety of ways, but here are the 3 main options:

1)Antagonist Muscle Groups: biceps/triceps, chest/back, etc.

2)Compound Legs: ham & glute dominant/quad dominant

3)Full-Body: Leg/Push/Pull

The Setup: This workout requires some planning the first few times you do it. The more exercises you know, the more fun this can be. You will need 6-9 exercises. This means that if you are doing antagonist muscle groups(i.e. biceps/triceps), you will need at least 3 exercises for biceps, and 3 for triceps. If you are doing full-body, you will need at least 2 leg, 2 push, and 2 pull. I recommend just going with a 6 exercise Diamond to start. If you do the quick math, at minimum, you will be doing 36 sets. At the max. end with 9 exercises you will be doing 81 sets. Yes, you read that right; 9 sets of 9 exercises = 81.

You will do one exercise, rest 20-60 seconds (less rest for the beginning and end of the diamond, more for the middle), then do that same exercise again and add one more, short rest, then 1 and 2, then add another. So on and so forth. When you get to the apex, you start subtracting off the front end.

The programming for a 9 exercise diamond looks like this:



The Weights: You should choose a weight of which you could do 20 reps with difficulty. You can also do bodyweight (pushups, pull-ups, jump squats, jumping split squats, etc.), sprints, jumprope, or crazy stuff like sled-pushes.

The reps: your rep range is going to be 8-15. Why is this such a wide range, you ask? Because you won’t be changing the weights you choose at the beginning, and like I mentioned before: YOU COULD BE DOING 81 SETS! This means that at the beginning, you may be hitting 15 reps of an exercise, and toward the end it will only be 8 before you fail. If you want to go the more H.I.I.T or Supramax training route, you could do 30-60 seconds of  bodyweight or cardio-esque exercises also.

The Time: This is what always surprises people. The 6 exercise diamond, when done correctly, will take about 18-35 minutes (yup, 36 sets in 18 minutes). The 9 exercise diamond will take close to an hour. How is it possible that you can do 81 sets in an hour? Simple answer: you ain’t resting much, Jack. Your rest time is capped at 60 seconds, and for most of the diamond it’s going to be less.

The Frequency: Do not do this protocol more than 3 times a week if it’s your primary way you want to work, and no more than once a week if you are supplementing your normal lifting program. It’s just too taxing on your neurological system and recovery gets to be an issue.
Keep in mind too my basic rules: . Never stick to one type of training, rep range, set range, or modality. The Diamond is yet another tool in the toolbox.

The Results: I have used this for years with great results in strength, hypertrophy, and metabolic increases for me and my clients.  Several years ago when I was really into developing this system, my own BMR when testing on a gas-exchange test after doing ONLY this type of workout for over a year was around 2400 calories. Translation: my metabolism was cranking’.
I was 192 lbs. at around 8-9% body fat, and my bench, squat, and deadlift tested at around 80% of my 1 RM from the previous year of doing traditional absolute strength training; However, my 10 rep max was SIGNIFICANTLY higher in all those lifts, and my heart rate recovery was wicked fast. The only reason I quit doing this as my primary workout programming is because I got bored with it after a couple years. Now that I’ve been doing traditional bodybuilding splits for a while, I’ve gone back to using a diamond as my conditioning/metabolic training at the end of the week. It’s also my go-to when a willing Canadian Bro like Bryan Krahn comes into town and wants to do something crazy for arms.

The Warning: The diamond is no joke. I have used it for all populations by just adjusting the type of exercises (a bicep curl is going to be significantly less stressful than a dumbbell snatch), but even at the “easy” end this can be a rough one for people. Just like any program, start slow and get comfortable with it. Most importantly, NEVER SACRIFICE FORM FOR REPS!!!

Please Share. It's Just Polite.Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookEmail this to someone
Please Share. It's Just Polite.Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookEmail this to someone

Written by Ethan Benda

Ethan Benda is a Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor, physique athlete, presenter, educator, and all around nice guy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *