Tag Archives: less is more
Soon I am to be without a gym.
The place I currently train is set to close, it has had a good run however as with all good things it must come to an end.
A few good memories have been had at this simple place.
You’d find the beauty of this particular gym in the fact it had very little kit and very limited weight (200kg ish in plates, total), a pull up bar, TRX, small section of dumbbells (2-20kg) and 2 DAP cable machine.
Honestly it made for some of the most productive training I’ve had in years.
It also helped break my addictive mindset.
Personally I enjoy doing 3 movements per training session.
This seems to be the right amount of work that allows a solid focus with ample variety while also cutting out any chance of bullshit and exercise fodder.
Junk volume became a thing of the past.
Typically sessions were about 45-60min, if time was short only the main movement would be done, thus resulting in a one lift training session.
The other two lifts tended to be accessory, unless I felt like doing something more taxing.
My most favoured one lift sessions:
When the main lift didn’t feel like it was enough some ultra basic superset tactics would be utilised:
Front Squat & Straight Leg DL
Sumo DL & Floor Press
Press & Pull Up
The typical session would look like this:
100x Rows (bodyweight, bar or DB)
Main lift – 45min of S/B/DL/P
100x Reverse Flies*
*Alternated session to session with tricep work
Yep, back would be done first and last, mainly for postural purposes and some feeling of the posterior chain.
I’m also not adverse to doing a few hundred kettlebell swings in a day (or perhaps 100 snatches) just because I feel like it, the posterior chain is king and needs to be treated as such.
It’s not much, at least it’s honest though.
You’ve now had an insight into the training I do.
There is less emotional attachment to specific movements these days, for that I’m thankful.
Training is just training at the end of the day.
If you don’t squat for 6 months no one is going to care, not really. That doesn’t mean you won’t train your legs in some way shape of from, it just means you wont necessarily do it by squatting.
Oh yes, you don’t need to train in the classic body building or Frankenstein method (by body part).
You can choose to train the way you desire.
There are not training police. No underground triad that will cut off the tip of your little finger for not training like a body builder (they only do that if you dishonour/fail them, phew).
You may be aware my philosophy of training evolved.
It was once about doing it all,now it’s about simply doing better.
Get really really good at something, or a few things, take them to their limit then be happy and give them a break and do something entirely different.
You know when it’s time to give something away (movement/exercise wise) when you start to get emotionally attached to it.
Ideally you give it away before this happens.
One way to hep you do this is to find a gym that has very little to offer in the way of kit because in that you’ll find it’s true gift, freedom.
Remember this the next time you’re presented a choice.
Instead of choosing fashion (creature comforts, shiny kit and all the trimmings).
You’ve probably read posts on here before about making progress without the need for anything more than one piece of kit.
Today we shall circle back around to the classic barbell & plates without the use of a rack.
(Could be fixed barbells as well)
In the modern world of programming sessions there are some people that have finally started to come around, or back to, the idea of movements first, muscles second.
The reason being that you’ll find by prioritising movement you cover essentially all of your muscles.
Some isolation/specific accessory work is cool, however for the majority of people it shouldn’t be their entire program.
As for the barbell, we shall be looking at the movement options and then put together ideas so that you can do more with less.
I reckon 2-5 for each section should be enough to get you started.
Okay, here we go.
– Clean & Jerk (or press/push press)
– Bent Press
– TGU (Turkish Get Up)
– Roll Out (kneeling or standing)
– Farmers Walk (single arm)
– Waiters Walk
– Drag Curl Carry
– Spartan Carry
– Power Clean/Snatch
– Hang Clean/Snatch
– Deadlift (multiple variation, snatch grip, deficit, sumo, etc)
– Good Morning
– Squat (multiple variation, front, zercher, overhead, etc)
– Lunge (multiple variation, side, reverse, curtsy, etc)
– Step Up
– Hill Walk
– CMJ (counter movement jump – advanced only)
– Row (multiple variation, supinated, pronated etc)
– Clean/Snatch High Pull
– Curl (multiple variation, wide, narrow, reverse etc)
– Press (multiple variation, flat, overhead, floor, reverse, etc)
– Tricep Extension (multiple variation, overhead, flat, etc)
As you can see there is a lot of choice, and this is without even going into barbell complexes either.
This is an example three day training week using the movement premise above.
To make this a challenge worth your time you may only use 10-20kg plates when loading the bar or progressing.
Yep, no small plates, this will mean you put more emphasis on how to progress/plan things going forwards.
(You can of course change this based on your goal/needs, it’s not gospel, merely a suggestion)
Day 1 –
A1 – Snatch – 7×2-3
B1 – Floor Press – 4-6×6-8
C1 – Drag Curl Carry – 10min xTotal Distance
Day 2 –
A1 – Clean & Jerk – 7×2-3
B1 – Supinated Bent Over Row – 4-6×6-8
C1 – Waiters Walk – 10min xTotal Distance
Day 3 –
A1 – TGU x5-10 reps per side
B1 – Bent Press x5-10 reps per side
C1 – Hack Squat 5×20
Once you hit the rep goals (7×2-3 = 21 total reps top end), either choose to add load or change the exercise for that movement.
When it comes to getting big it is pretty undeniable that volume is king.
Density is Queen and Intensity is the Mistress.
From being around for quite a while I’ve found that those who are the biggest often go down the route of metabolic stress/metabolite production for their gains.
That being said, they still understand that you can’t build decent size with piddly weights.
Then again on the opposite side of that coin you can’t get in enough volume if the loads are too heavy to amass the required volume/fatigue to cause an adaptive response.
Not enough stimulus = no change
Too much stimulus = no change, just survival at any cost
It’s known as the Goldilocks effect.
Things have to be just right, and as such it brings up the classic ‘it depends’ and ‘find what works for you’.
Those two statements really do irritate me.
Not for any other reason than people fall back on them when they don’t want to admit the fault is theirs.
It’s easy to hide behind ambiguity after all.
So how many sets is too many?
If you look in to the science you’ll find that it states anywhere from 3-30 sets can be optimal for hypertrophy.
For the love of all that is holy, that doesn’t help anyone, especially when it’s combined with “Well it depends.”
No, fuck you, fuck off, people don’t want that bullshit, they ask a question for an answer that will yield some useful info they can apply, or confirm a bias.
Hey, you can’t win them all.
Here is what I’ve found from personal & professional experience for the majority of lifters
^^ The majority being beginner to intermediate at best.
Sets can go out of the window for now as they will vary base donate reps/load.
Reps/Load are the key factor for most people.
Utilising a good 12RM for 2-6 sets will leave you feeling pretty done.
*RM = rep max.
I know 2-6 seems low, however these are WORK SETS.
This means each one takes a good amount out of your tank and you need to recover from the set.
Same is true for an 8RM, or 6RM, essentially anything that you are actually lifting the amount you should on.
This doesn’t include warm up sets or perhaps a couple of back of sets for pump (if you need that feeling, which some do, and that’s cool).
Say you’ve got 3 warm up sets, 3-4 working sets and 2-3 back off sets, that will give you at the top end 10 sets.
That is provided you’re using the land you should be using and that is the hardest part to get right.
If your absolute 6RM with near perfect from on Press is 60kg you have couple of options on how to work with it.
1 – Do a set of 6, rest 3-5min, repeat 2-3 more times.
2 – Do sets of 4, rest 2-3min, repeat 4-6 times.
Same load, very different levels of intensity.
The first option will be more optimal for people who know their body well, the second is better for those that find auto-regulation difficult.
As mentioned above, this is based on my own personal/professional experience.
If you have the weight right then 2-6 total working sets on your main lift (not including warm up or back off sets) is sufficient.
The same goes for secondary lifts and accessory ones.
I’ve found 2-6 for the secondary tends to go well with the main, and of the accessory 2-3 sets if often enough for most.
Think about that for a second, if we have the top end of all the sets thats 6+6+6 (tow accessory lifts), 18total sets.
Wait…. 18…. That falls right in between the 3-30 mark.
Holy shit, the science was right?!
Indeed it was/is, however it’s how you apply it that matters.
Most people look at the science and don’t know how to apply it or what it really means, as such they just want simple answers and this is what leads to the ambiguity.
Plus the majority will go in straight at the top end of the amounts of sets, this isn’t wise.
Picking an RM to work with and allowing your body to tell you when enough is enough is key, however it’s not an easy skill to learn.
Does the above help you?
Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.
That being said, here is what I would advise you to try moving forwards if you need guidance.
Main Lift: 2-4 working sets
Secondary Lift: 2-4 working sets
Accessory Lift*: 2-3 working sets
*Typically you pick 2-3 accessory movements, and just one main/secondary lift.
Remember those are working sets, the money makers if you will, as such you want to aim to use as close to a true RM as possible.
^^You find each set, if you have the load right there is a 2.5% drop off in performance each set, which equates to 1 rep (or 1.25kg), if using a true RM, or a slightly slower speed, I will go over this another time.
So, how many sets do you really need?
Well, it depends 😂