Simplicity: The Essential Ingredient to Training Success


Why you need SIMPLICITY in your training

We live in a fast paced society where people are on information overload. Every day you have hundreds of emails selling you products and marketing services. It can get quite overwhelming to keep up with everything. The same is true when it comes to fitness and exercise.  There is so much information on exercise that you can quickly become paralyzed by the quantity of information. Confusion sets in and soon you don’t know what to do.

As a strength coach for 18 years I have learned that the wisest and most productive way to accelerate your results and save you time is to adopt the principle of SIMPLICITY.  What is the principle? Simplicity means to cut the fluff out of your training programs and instead of adding movements, it means stripping away movements.

How do you add this principle of Simplicity into you life?


1)   Focus on Movements that give you a high return on investment

 This means pick movements that work the entire body at the same time. Multi joint movements allow you to use loads that are heavy enough to make a difference and stimulate the fast twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are best activated by using heavier loads or by moving the body very explosively. Think Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, Pull Ups, Kettlebell Swings and Turkish Get Ups.


2)   Focus on two to three movements per training session.

Focusing on doing less movements is a great way to develop mastery of each movement. The overriding goal of exercise should be mechanically sound technique and body awareness.  I would rather you do a couple of movements very well rather than do many movements in a mediocre way.


3)   Focus on doing less reps.

The trend in the fitness industry seems to be to do as much as you can in the quickest period of time. Not only am I completely against this, it leads to less than optimal technique and increases the chance of injury. Instead of starting with high reps, achieve your volume goals by doing more set of less reps.   Sets of 5 reps are a great place to start with your strength training movements.


4)   30 minute sessions are super productive

If you are performing big compound movements and are slowly increasing the load, you will not need to long duration training sessions.  My experience is that for most people training over one hour is not necessary.  In fact there is research that shows that training too long can cause some rather negative hormonal responses in the body including increases in cortisol levels and adrenal exhaustion.  Some of my most productive and health promoting training sessions are less than 30 minutes and often less than 20 minutes. The goal should not be to train as long as possible. The goal should be to train just enough to get a favorable training response.


5)   The Best Training Program is the one that you will actually do.

 This is perhaps the best reason to simplify you training program.  Often the more complicated your program the more likely you are to get overwhelmed and not do it.  Last year (in 2013) I simplified my program by focusing on two barbell lifts (deadlifts and Zercher Squats) some ketttlebell presses,  weighted pull ups and kettlebell snatches.

That’s all I did for one year and the results were that I got way stronger in almost every lift. I kept the workouts to under 30 minutes and I listened to my body. Usually I would lift hard for two weeks followed by two easier weeks.  I kept the total volume fairly low. This program was fun for me to do because mentally it did not overwhelm me nor leave me totally wrecked after each session. This type of program is vey sustainable and healthy.

Hopefully you will be encouraged to simplify your training and watch your body get better results and more importantly be in better health.

As always, it’s great to feedback from readers like you. What methods do you use to simplify your training?

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