Article by Robin Tintelen, Personal Trainer, Best In You Personal Training (Dutch Site)
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!
For those of us who have a more down-to-earth and realistic view on training, the gym can be quite a ‘Twilight Zone’. Groups of teenagers doing fist pumps after their max-effort set of Leg Extensions, women balancing on Bosu Balls while tugging on Dynabands, or the 100+ pounds overweight guy who believes there must be some strange and unexplainable cause for his bum knee.
Sticking to simple and proven basics is a concept that some people just cannot seem to grasp. Perhaps they get bored quickly, or think of themselves as special snowflakes who need their own unique approach (that’s what I think of my clients actually). But in my cold and hard opinion, they either don’t know any better or are just not willing to do some hard work.
Let me give you a few examples. You might do three rounds of some ‘Celebrity Bicep Circuit’, or ditch these in favor of some good old (weighted) chin-ups. You can go all Jane Fonda with your collection of leg raises for 15 minutes, or do a set of Kettlebell Swings or Stiff Leg Deadlifts to hit those glutes way harder… in 30 seconds.
And I lost count of all the miracle diets out there blaming our excess weight on a blood group, screwed up hormones, processed foods or the length of your toenails. Now I am not saying they won’t do anything for weight loss; a lot of them actually do. But is this because of all the nifty science backing them up? Just take a good look at the suggested meal plans and notice the amount of calories being restricted. Of course a 1500 calorie diet is going to help you lose weight, no matter the exotic science behind it!
The problem with these simple basics, such as chin-ups and putting less foods in your mouth, is how hard they are. Most people want to achieve big results but with a minimum of effort. They will gladly choose ten sets of Leg Extensions over of a single set of heavy Lunges, or stuff themselves with exotic ‘fat burning foods’ instead of actually eating smaller portions. Now I know I am being somewhat short-sighted, and that there is a lot more to building your physique than just ‘Squats and Milk’ (as the old Powerlifter mantra goes). But we should start accepting that building our physique is a long and hard road with no short-cuts. And the things that worked for a lot of other people, for example compound exercises or eating less, is going to work for us as well.
So here is my ‘KISS approach’ to training, applicable to both gaining muscle and losing weight. You are going to strength train three times a week on non-consecutive days, with Monday – Wednesday – Friday being the most logical split. Every training day will be full body, with 2 to 3 sets (warm-up sets not included) of 6 to 8 repetitions. The training will consist of only three exercises, those being a lower body (either push or pull), upper body pull, and upper body push exercise.
Lower Body Push: -Squats, Front Squats, Goblet Squats, Lunges, Step Ups, Split Squats
Lower Body Pull: -Deadlifts, Stiff Leg Deadlifts, Single Leg Deadlifts, Kettlebell Swings
Upper Body Push: -Bench Press, Dumbell Press, Dips, Overhead Pressing variations
Upper Body Pull: – Chin-ups, Pull-ups, Dumbell Rows, Barbell Rows
You can do these as stand-alone exercises, or do them in a circuit / superset
style with a minute of rest in between exercises. To give you an example:
1A: Goblet Squats, 6 reps, resting one minute before going to…
1B: Pull-ups, 6 reps, resting one minute before going to…
1C: Dips, 6 reps, again resting one minute before you start over to repeat the circuit 2 or 3 times.
This approach will not only do a lot for gaining muscle and becoming stronger (1 + 1) but it will also help you burn that excess fat more quickly. There is just one problem… It’s going to kick you @ss, HARD. No talking about what happened during X-factor or texting in between exercises here, softie!
Now as I mentioned earlier, I am well aware of the probably too basic set-up of this training. And pretty much every trainee will benefit from a more individualized approach to their training, especially in terms of injury prevention and structural balance. But the point that I am trying to make here is that you don’t need twelve sets of side raises while hopping on a Bosu ball. You can do a lot more in half of the time by focusing on those three basic exercises hitting a large group of muscles. Is it harder? Yes. Is it less fun to do? Probably. But has this approach worked for thousands of people around the world, and way better than all the fancy isolation exercises that you picked from some bodybuilding magazine? Hell yes!
So you want results? Just Keep It Simple Stupid!