Should working out be fun?
But sometimes “fun” comes at the cost of getting the results you want. What do I mean by this? Jumping around with a wide variety of exercises or having “shiny object syndrome” can make it really hard to track progress.
While I’m all for having fun with new stuff, if you are getting bored with your training because some of the exercises are staying the same, then you don’t fully understand the training process yet.
Jumping around with a million different exercises each month, known as “program hopping” in the strength and conditioning world, makes it nearly impossible to see real progress over the course of a few months.
Sure, you might see progress in one month, but are you seeing progress in three months? Six months? Twelve months? Five years from now?
So, what should you be doing if you want to make progress and reach your goals?
If you want to build muscle?
Push, pull, hinge, and squat.
Want to burn fat?
Push, pull, hinge, and squat.
Just want to get fit, be pain-free, and be able to do hobbies outside of the gym?
Push, pull, hinge, and…can you guess it?…squat.
Basically, regardless of your goals, you need to push something (floor press, bench press, push ups, overhead press), pull something (rows, recline rows, pull ups, lat pulldowns), hinge (deadlift, RDL, swings), and squat (goblet squats, barbell squat, split squat, lunges).
These are basic movement patterns that everyone should be doing. They use the biggest muscles in the body and cause the best training stimulus.
Everytime you work one of them, you should be trying to be a little bit better than last time you did a movement.
That doesn’t always mean to increase weight or trying to make the exercise “harder.” It also means trying to make your form better with the movements or doing the same weight for more reps.
A popular term from martial arts, which carries over to many things in life, is that it takes 10,000 reps to master a skill. All the exercises you do in the gym are a skill, so if you do 100 good squats in a week, it’ll take you 100 weeks to master the squat, or just shy of two years. But for most of you reading this, you’re probably doing between 25-50 squats per week…
So, if you’re wondering why we always do floor press and goblet squats in our large group programsor you’ve been doing small group for awhile and programs start looking similar to each other, now you know.
Getting better at a handful of movements is the best way to get great results, but change for the sake of change won’t get you to where you want to go.
From personal experience, I started lifting back in 2007. Every week, since starting, I’ve done bench press (push), pull ups and rows (pull), barbell squats (squat), and deadlifts (hinge).
Guess what all the other coaches do on a weekly basis?
They do those same movement patterns, even if the exercise might be different (Jeff might use a safety squat bar for his squat pattern, Ryan might be doing barbell jerks for his push pattern).
Do we get bored? Sure.
That’s when we might add in some tools like the mace, clubs, plyometrics, or bodyweight flows.. But the basic movements patterns will always be in our programs, which is why they’re always going to be in your programs, because they’re the best bang-for-your-buck exercises.
Personally, my warm ups are about 10 minutes of “play” where I follow a loose structure, but basically do whatever I want in the gym (which sometimes leads to new exercises in your small group programs).
Program hopping and trying to do a ton of variety isn’t the best option if you have some goals you want to reach. Even if you’re already fit just want to maintain where you’re at, focus on a handful of exercises and try to get a little better at them each time you have them in a workout.
On a final note, many of the coaches that the GST coaches follow have found that when they dialed back their programs and focused on the basics, they got better results. Ben Bruno wrote about this a while back, and Jim Wendler has an entire training program called “Boring but Big.”
I know how some of the GST clients are, so NO, you can’t just do 10,000 reps next week of a given exercise and walk away thinking you’re now a black belt in bench press!