This is one topic that I could write about for hours, really. Having spent thousands of hours in gyms over the past 20 or so years, I’ve seen it all…and done close to every resistance — or weight-bearing — workout imaginable. Resistance workouts are a key component to any life wellness program — for everybody.
Lately I’ve come to the conclusion that less is really more. Sometimes way less…like a single exercise for the entire workout. Of course when that single exercise is the deadlift, and done heavy, that one exercise can be plenty for one session. And that’s my point: Unless you’re a competitive bodybuilder, then you don’t need a thousand exercises — especially all done in the same workout — to experience results. Compound exercises, like the deadlift, squat and benchpress, for example, are the ones you want to spend the most time with.
From January through April of this year I only did deadlifts, squats and benchpress — each on different days — using a strategy learned from Tim Ferriss’ blog (the same Tim Ferriss of 4 Hour Workweek fame.) See his blog post for more detail, but the long and short of it is you do 5 sets of 5 reps each with a single weight, say 135 pounds for a bench press.
Assuming you successfully get through all 5 reps in each of 5 sets, the next week you go up to 145 pounds…same 5 sets of 5 reps. You do this each week, adding 10 pounds per week, until you can’t complete the 5 sets of 5 reps. Then you just stay at the same weight from week to week until you can get through the 5×5 routine, then increase the weight again. Do the same for bench and deadlifts, just on different days. Simple, right?
Using this strategy I added about 75 pounds to my deadlift, and proportionate amounts to the bench and squat.
Eventually I switched up the routine a bit because I needed some change, but my workouts are still simple…and short. I stick with compound exercises mostly. So in addition to the lifts noted above, I’ll do chinups, pullups, lunges, etc. And no machines! By using bodyweight or free-weight resistance you allow for a greater range of movement, and get more muscles involved with each lift.
That’s all for now. We’ll get into the many problems with cardio another time…