It’s Easier Than You Thought

Most of this may not apply to veterans of the strength game but for the average person I believe it can be very useful.  It is also a broad look at how we program for all people at Ambition Athletics.  This philosophy is centered on the thought that all people should focus to improve movement and strength, not so much individual muscles through isolation.  Often people are members of large gyms with endless amounts of equipment for all sorts of different things.  Where to begin can often be confusing.   I’m here to tell you that it might be intimidating but it’s easier than you thought.

In my opinion, the easiest thing for the average person to do is think in terms of upper body and lower body pushing and pulling.  Core work will be mostly anti flexion, extension, and rotation.  Yes, you heard that right, anti.  That’s it, about 4-6 exercises.  That’s it, simple yet effective.  Upper body pushing includes push ups, overhead pressing and all bench press variations.  Upper body pulling includes chin/pull ups and all rowing variations.  Also consider that some pushing and pulling is done vertically and some is done horizontally.  For the lower body pushing includes squats, split squats, and lunge variations.  Lower body pulling includes all deadlift variations, slideboard leg curls and reverse lunges, as well as kettlebell swings.  Notice that the leg curl and innnie/outtie machines didn’t make the list.  In summary:

  1. Upper body Push (Vertical / Horizontal)
  2. Upper body Pull (Vertical / Horizontal)
  3. Lower body Push (2-leg / 1-leg)
  4. Lower body Pull (2-leg / 1-leg, Bent knee / Straight leg)
  5. Core (Anti – Flexion, Extension, Rotation)

Dan John, strength coach extraordinaire, has a similar approach that is slightly more specific, adding in explosive exercises and what he calls gait, that includes walking/carrying exercises such as suitcase walks and various sled drags.  He explains it in his DVD “A Philosophy of Strength Training”.  It looks like this:

  1. Squat (same as lower body push)
  2. Deadlift (again, a lower body pull)
  3. Anterior Chain / Roll Outs
  4. Upper body Push (Vertical / Horizontal)
  5. Upper body Pull (Vertical / Horizontal)
  6. Gait
  7. Torque / Rotation
  8. Explosive Work

This is only a rough outline of how to begin making a plan for your time spent in the gym. Choose just one exercise from each category and you’ve got a decent starting point.  The important thing to remember is to keep it simple.  Getting in shape is about improving quality of life through better movement, strength and injury prevention.  If just getting huge guns and not ever training legs is your thing that’s fine with me (just stay away from the squat rack) but it isn’t the goal for most people.

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