Sometimes we can make things too complex in life. Instead of just sticking to simple basics, we will add one thing here and one thing there until eventually we become overburdened with too much. This happens a lot at the gym.
Where did it all go wrong?
Typically at the gym you start with a nice, basic program. But then as you want to focus on certain areas you add more exercises to help spotlight that particular muscle. The general theory is more work on an area is good because it will help with muscle definition, shape, and growth. While that can be true, sometimes we just push things too far and need to remember that less is more.
Why Do Less?
Honestly our bodies are amazing things. If we pick up 50 pound bags of cement everyday and move them around our arms, shoulders, legs, and back will all get a benefit along with stabilizing muscles. The same goes for lifting weights. You can still make amazing gains using fewer exercises as long as they are the bigger, compound exercises. Added bonuses of fewer exercises is less time in the gym as well as a lesser chance that you are actually over training some muscles by giving them too much work.
The Basic Workout
This workout is very simple yet very hard. Each exercise is a compound one and will work a lot of muscles. Form is absolutely critical as well as pushing yourself hard. But that is often easier when you know that you are only doing 4 exercises per session. For this program you will have an A and B workout. You should take at least 2 days of rest between workout days (or three if you are still sore or fatigued). You could also do this type of workout on Mondays and Fridays to alternate between two and three days off between.
- Barbell Rows – Works the back, biceps, forearms, and shoulders
- Barbell Bench Press – Works the chest, shoulders, and triceps
- Barbell Squat – Works the legs and whole body
- Stiff-Legged Deadlift – Works the lower back, hamstrings, and calves
- Pull-ups – Works the back, biceps, forearms, and shoulders
- Dips – Works the chest, shoulders, and triceps
- Deadlifts – Works the back, hips, hamstrings, shoulders, forearms
- Dumbbell Squats – Works the legs
This is an amazing full body workout in 4 very challenging exercises. For sets and reps your goal should be three good sets in the 6 to 10 rep range after a warm-up set or two. Form and effort are critical to getting the most out of this workout. Ideally you will be pushing yourself hard and looking to increase weight regularly. You can include an additional core exercise on each workout day or just do that with cardio.
Sometimes more is not better. Learning how to focus on what you are doing and get some serious quality work in can outdo quantity every time. Sometimes you have to look past what everyone else is doing. Doing rows and chin-ups will build tremendous arm strength as well as grip strength you just don’t get from using a rowing machine and barbell curls. It is a different type of workout, but extremely effective in getting you bigger and stronger.