By UK Personal Trainer | Pete Crawshaw
I have been training in gyms for over 16 years, from old school ‘spit and sawdust’ style gyms, to modern globo gyms and from fight studios to Crossfit Boxes I have trained in them all. I have travelled up and down the country and I have trained overseas and there is one vital message that seems to be getting missed over and over again.
As the title suggests I am talking about the habit of applying the finishing touches to your workouts before the foundations are even in place. People from all walks of life seem obsessed with doing the ‘fancy stuff’ rather than the basic hard work.
In my eyes I could turn the majority of the population into better athletes using a simple balance of the following movements:
There is no need to reinvent the wheel and no need just yet to be doing three types of bicep curl with different grips to hit the heads from different angles. Yes, it sounds cool, yes top bodybuilders need to pay much more attention to that detail but for the vast majority of us it really isn’t important.
One of the first priorities for everyone undertaking a fitness plan should always be to develop the foundations, move better and feel better.
Strength and Conditioning Workout
When we structure a workout or program for an athlete (yes, you are an athlete) the above movements should always be taken into consideration, build the workouts around these movements, incorporate compound lifts as often as possible and you will have the fundamentals of a very sound workout.
- Bench press
- Bent over row
- Kettlebell swing
- Front Squat
- Farmers walk
This simple five exercise combination applied correctly could change your physique in a dramatic way:
Rows and presses will build a strong a solid upper body, heavy kettlebell swings will not only improve your cardiovascular fitness they also build strength in the posterior chain (back, bum and hamstrings), front squats can be used to develop the quads, glutes and core and then the mighty farmers walk, possibly the simplest of all exercise. Pick up some heavy weights and walk as far as you can, then rest and repeat to build amazing grip strength and to torch the back and shoulders whilst also making the lungs go into overdrive.
So with these simple exercises combined we have a comprehensive full body workout that hits every major muscle group, targets all the major movements and also provides a cardiovascular challenge.
What more could you possibly need?
Now if we combine this basic workout with the most basic of nutrition plans to suit your goals we are very close to everything we need to make dramatic changes in the physique of most people without ever over complicating matters.
In the simplest terms:
To lose weight – simply look to create a caloric deficit in your diet.
To gain size – create a caloric surplus if your aim is to increase mass.
Imagine your physique and fitness as a pyramid, you have to spend time building from the ground up for the structure to look at all impressive, only when we have developed the basic movements, the compound lifts, and the correct energy balance do we need to start putting in the finishing touches, there are many tools available for these touches but we do not need to rush to utilise them until the basics have been mastered.
Important Take Home Message
It is always important to remember that getting in shape, whether that may be changing your body composition, improving your athletic performance or simply improving your health is a process. Do not try to rush it, there is no magic cheat technique that will change your physique overnight. Great physiques are developed over years of consistent work and progression.
The gyms we train in have changed considerably over the years but the human body really hasn’t, we move the same way we always have and our physiology hasn’t dramatically changed at any stage so why would we suddenly need 5 types of bicep curls to make arms grow?
Now don’t get me wrong I am not against a bicep curl, we all love to mix things up and work on the ‘guns’ but what I would emphasise is that these isolation exercises should not make up the main structure of the workout. Think of these as the gold taps in the bathroom of our beautifully built house and you won’t go far wrong.