I see it all the time and I’ve gone through it myself – people just kind of wandering in the gym.
“I used to be way stronger/more powerful/more agile/etc”
You attempt to reclaim your old self. Maybe it’s burpee box jumps this week. Maybe you toss a medicine ball around next time. You feel like you’re working pretty hard but you’re not sure if you’re actually accomplishing anything. Not to mention you know there’s no way you’d be able to keep up with your former self.
It doesn’t have to be that way
“We are primal beings living in a modern world” a coach I respect quite a bit has said more than a few times and it’s the key behind my training beliefs. We are all athletes by design; we are literally built to run fast, jump high and throw far. We’ve just surrendered a lot of our ability to life. Age, of course, has a part to play in it but facebook, happy hour, kids, the boss, life as we know it are all contributors. We all have the ultimate athletic tool, we just need to sharpen it back up and get it back into prime shape. We do that via following these principles in our training sessions
Like I said, we are meant to run, jump and throw. Your workouts should strive to include at least one athletic movement such as a box jumps or lateral bounds, throws such as medicine ball slams, or some sort of run or sprint.
Athletes live and die by how much force they can produce. A powerful athlete is going to dominate their sport of choice and we should emulate that by building maximal, limit strength via major, compound movements that challenge the entire body to produce strength and force. Over time you will become stronger, more powerful and you’ll also feel and move better.
If you have a shitty engine, you’re going nowhere fast. Not only do athletes have to be strong and agile, but they have to repeat their performance time and again. You can be stronger and more powerful than anyone else, but if you get gassed walking up a flight of steps, what good are you? This doesn’t mean slogging away on the treadmill for hours at a time. Not only is it boring, it’s a waste of time as there are more effective methods to condition yourself such as intervals, complexes, circuit training and more.
For example, most people might have for a workout
Bench press 4×6
Bent Over Rows 3×8
Skull Crushers 3×12
where they’ll do a set of bench press, then wait, then do another set of bench press, then wait, then do their last set before moving onto their rows, etc. This is great if all you care about is getting as large as possible. However this sucks for the inner athlete inside of us. If we instead combined exercises into a superset or circuit, we’d increase our work capacity and conditioning levels, still get strong, and save a lot of time. This leads to
Keep Things Short and Intense
Your entire workout should really last 60 minutes MAX including a warm up and cool down. Ideally you should be doing a 40-50 minute workout maybe 3-4 times a week or a 30-40 minute workout 3-5 times a week. This might surprise you but shorter and more intense workouts will typically be more effective for a few different reasons.
First, a shorter session means you can train more intensely and with more focus than a longer session. Similarly, shorter sessions build up less fatigue meaning you can train more intensely more often; 4-5 workouts a week for 30 minutes each is going to be just as effective as 3 one hour long sessions since you’re giving the body the movement and stimulus it craves almost daily.
Second, we are bombarded by stress daily – work, family, traffic, caffeine, late nights, deadlines, etc. Exercise is yet another stress in the ever growing list, albeit a good stress. But too much overall stress on the body causes it to release a hormone called cortisol. One thing that contributes greatly to the release of cortisol it’s lots of long, low level exercise. Typical “cardio” where you turn off your brain for 45+ minutes is poor choice for this reason alone.
Putting it all together
This is the easy part. Your workout just needs
- a throw, jump, or run
- 1-2 major, compound exercises like lunges, bent over rows, squats, overhead presses, etc
- 2-4 secondary exercises preferably done in circuit fashion
- 5-15 minutes of sprinting or other high intensity interval training
You might have
A) Box jumps 3×6
B) Front Squat 4×5
C1) Reverse Lunge 3×8
C2) Bear Crawl 3×10 yards
C3) Val Slide SHELC 3×8
D) Airdyne Sprint 15 on, 45 rest x4
If you’re interested in training like an athlete, just check out my guide below. It’s 100% free and will walk you through an entire program so you can start training for real results