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April 12, 2021 10 min read
When it comes to badass motherf*s, there are few that can stand up to CT Fletcher. We’ve looked at Superman before, but it’s time to exit the realm of fantasy and enter Fletcher’s world—also known as the ‘Superman of Compton.’
When it comes to brutal, high-rep workouts and a mind-over-body mentality, not many can stand up to Fletcher. While his training may be difficult, it’s his training philosophy that really makes him the juggernaut that he is.
Working until you can’t move anymore—and then pushing for more—is a good summary of what to expect with any training program involving Fletcher. So, knowing that, let’s take a closer look at what makes the man tick, and the training and diet plan that makes him the Superman of Compton.
Since so much of this type of training is about the mind, it makes sense to look into the mind and background of Fletcher himself. Fletcher is a former professional bodybuilder and powerlifter, hailing from rural Arkansas.
He would later move to Compton, California, as a child. He would go on to join the army at 18 where he became interested in martial arts, getting into powerlifting and bodybuilding. He first entered the weight room in the 1980s, followed by several top 3 placements in various bodybuilding shows.
He’s won both the World Bench Press and World Strict Curl championships, not once, not twice, but three times. However, in 2005 his career was cut short.
Due to some past dietary mistakes (which we’ll take a look at closer down below), he had to undergo open-heart surgery in 2005. His heart would stop three times during surgery, but he would come back with a new outlook on life that he would end up sharing with the world. This near-death experience was chronicled in the movie, “CT Fletcher: My Magnificent Obsession,” which Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson described as one of the best documentaries he’s ever seen. If that’s not a seal of approval, we don’t know what is.
After his surgery, he changed his workouts to be more in line with what they are today. That is, extremely high reps. He also changed his lifestyle with what he ate, opting for much healthier food options and also taking vitamins and other supplements to support his health.
Today, at the age of 61, he’s mostly known as a successful entrepreneur with his Iron Addicts brand, but also the owner of a popular YouTube channel that first started in 2013. Best described as part drill sergeant and part preacher, Fletcher has motivated millions of people around the world to push themselves harder than ever.
One important aspect of his background that wasn’t mentioned above was his very strict father. He’s channeled that strictness into his own mindset and training, pushing his own body to the brink—and then further—of what it can do.
It all has to do with discipline and dedication. Not just to your training, but in everything you do. That’ll develop a strong mind, and that’s also the inspiration for Fletcher’s brutal workouts.
His ISYMS training method (“It’s still your mother f* set”), isn’t much of a method in the classic sense. While there have been reps and sets attached to the exercises below, Fletcher’s mindset is that none of those numbers should matter. It’s just you and the iron, and your mind. You’re meant to push yourself as hard as you can go, ignoring any traditional training systems.
For him, it’s instinct. Whether you want to try this method out is up to you, but it obviously worked for him (and many others). As with all bodybuilding workouts, the key is high reps and lower to medium weights.
This is different from strength training, which has you load up on the weight and only do 5 or fewer repetitions in each set. If you want to get big muscles, you’ll want to opt for hypertrophy training which relies on the high rep counts. And it’s very difficult to find a training style with higher rep counts than Fletcher’s.
The defining feature of the Fletcher workout is the ‘one movement workout’ (OMW). Take a guess at what this means.
While this isn’t necessarily carved in stone since Fletcher doesn’t stick to one regime, what he will sometimes do is stick to a single exercise for the entirety of the workout, and end up doing an insane amount of reps. For example, he’ll choose to do squats for his leg workout—and then do squats the entire time.
If you know anything about working out, this is far from how it’s usually done. Fletcher appreciates that he has critics, but he’s said that people should try it, and if it doesn’t work out for them at least they know. Otherwise, if it does work, then it’s just one more strategy in your workout toolkit.
We’ve talked about hypertrophic training above and in the past, but this type of workout really takes things to the extreme. Fletcher will literally do 200 reps spread over a series of sets, of a single exercise.
That kind of “high volume/low to mid-weight” type of training is hypertrophy taken to the absolute max. Knowing this, it’s not that big of a surprise that Fletcher sports some insanely huge arms.
While we laid out the big number of “200 reps” up above, that’s not necessarily the way Fletcher would train. Sure, 200 reps is definitely something he includes in some of his workouts, but that’s not all he does to get into shape.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he also uses a lot of sets where he goes until failure. The usefulness over the long-term in going until failure is arguable, however, it can’t be denied that it’s been working for Fletcher.
Another technique that Fletcher uses is pyramid rep schemes. A pyramid scheme is a basic structure that organizes your sets and reps into a pyramid shape, with higher reps and lower weights towards the beginning, and heavier weights towards the end.
This not only allows for a warm-up to be included in the actual workout, but it also lets you pack on a ton of extra volume. Volume that’s necessary if you don’t want to be leaving any gains on the table.
For his crazy-high rep workouts, Fletcher recommends going in with a partner if you find someone to do it with. While they’re pumping out reps, that’s your turn to rest—and vice versa.
Part of the benefit of going in with a partner is because of the mental support, or comradery. Fletcher has said that part of the whole high-rep thing is to train your mind as much as you’re training your body. T
hink of it this way: when doing 5 reps, you have 5 points at which you can fail. Turn that up to 200 reps, and all of a sudden you’ve got 40 times more points to fail at. While it’s not that cut-and-dry, it does highlight Fletcher’s training philosophy pretty well.
There are many chances for your mind to give up. Not only is it a marathon for your muscles, but it’s also a marathon for your mind. If you do get through it, you’ll have built up more grit than some people ever develop in the gym.
Below is a list of Fletcher exercises that are popular in his routine. While reps and set counts are provided, the most important thing to keep in mind is the training philosophy we’ve outlined above.
It’s about pushing yourself extremely hard and developing your mental strength as much as your physical one. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go about things safely and in a responsible manner.
As always, make sure you’re giving your body enough rest. These are insanely intense workouts, and your body is going to be wrecked afterward. Also, ensure that you’re properly warming up so you can utilize a full range of motion and avoid unnecessary injuries.
Finally, even though these rep counts are high, that doesn’t mean you should be sacrificing form. Form will ensure that you’re getting all you can out of an exercise while also helping you avoid injuries that can set you back months. If you find yourself struggling with form, it’s a much better idea to either lower the weight or lower the reps, depending on your starting fitness level.
At the beginning of this article, we teased the reason why Fletcher had to have open-heart surgery in 2005. That reason was an unhealthy lifestyle, even while he was working out all the time. This should really drive home the importance of diet.
For twenty years, Fletcher would get the same meal every day from McDonald’s. Probably one of the unhealthiest diets ever, it consisted of four Big Macs, four orders of fries, two milkshakes, and four apple pies.
Put together, this came out to over 5,000 calories. Fletcher may have taken hypertrophy training to the max with his intense rep counts, but he also definitely took the dirty bulk to the absolute max as well.
Needless to say, after his open-heart surgery, he saw the need to switch things up a bit and start living a healthier life. Fletcher, standing at 5’11’’, is now a lean 235 pounds. He maintains a strict diet that keeps his macros in check while also supplementing with vitamins when needed.
His diet is very bare-bones. Just like his training, there are no frills attached to his eating plan. He’s even said in the past that you’re not supposed to eat for things to taste good, you only eat to grow and build muscle. As we can see, the Fletcher philosophy extends to the kitchen as well.
Below is a sample of what his meal plan might look like from day to day. As with his training, he doesn’t necessarily measure things out or go by any strict methods.
This should give you a decent idea of what a day in the Fletcher kitchen might look like, but it’s good to look at the macros as well. For example, Fletcher says he does a breakdown of 50% protein, 40% carbs, and 10% fat throughout the day. This makes sense with how much he’s working out.
The twist is that he doesn’t tend to measure this, and goes by feel. To add to that, he also sometimes will only eat carbs or only proteins for meals so he doesn’t have to measure out different things.
If instinct was a person, it would be CT Fletcher. Both in his workouts and in his diet, he listens to his body and decides what to do and much of something to do or eat.
Fletcher’s diet is extremely clean. This means that the carbs are complex and healthy, with healthy fats and relatively lean protein. Everything that you should be doing in order to stay lean while developing muscle mass.
Any type of fitness regime is going to mostly rely on the diet, so it’s extra important to get that down well. You not only need to be eating enough to support your training, but you also need to be eating the right stuff.
As we saw with Fletcher himself, consuming a very poor diet and essentially dirty bulking for 20 years is going to have its effects on your body, even if the gains still come in the moment. Much like Fletcher’s doctrine, fitness is a marathon and not a sprint. You want to be thinking about longevity, and that’s only going to come with the proper diet.
While the proper training, rest, and diet are the three most important things to stick to when trying to develop your physique, there are plenty of ways you can take things to the next level. Whey protein powder is the obvious and most popular choice when it comes to supplementing your diet.
The more you train, the more protein you’re going to need. Your muscles won’t grow without it—it doesn’t matter how many hours you spend in the gym. If you’re planning to even do a fraction of a Fletcher workout, you should be supplementing with high-quality whey protein shakes throughout the day. Unless you really want to be eating chicken breast 24/7.
Another good option is creatine. This compound is found naturally in muscle cells, and it helps your body produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercises. If you’re looking to seriously compound the gains you make in the gym, creatine is a solid and safe choice that has an excellent track record.
Of course, you want to make sure you’re getting it from a good source. We also mentioned that Fletcher supplements daily with multivitamins. This is in large part due to his close brushes with death, but even if you seem to be in good health it won’t hurt to keep your body well-oiled with vitamins and minerals.
Not only are they good for your overall health, but they’ll support functions that can help you gain more muscle. These four aspects of training, rest, diet, and supplements are what made Fletcher into who he is today.
But none of this would’ve been possible without the determination and grit that Fletcher shows in his training. Quite similar to Goggins in that respect, Fletcher has redefined what it means to mentally push your body as far as possible.