One of my favorite books on the philosophy of training comes from strength and conditioning coach, Dan John. It is a phenomenal read and resource and is the only book I have read cover to cover several times. Dan has his masters in history and religious study and is the head track and field coach at Juan Diego High School, Utah and full time instructor for religious studies at Columbia College and has been teaching for over 30 years. He has also competed in discus, power lifting, Olympic Lifting, and track. Quite an impressive guy if you ask me.
The book is set over a span of 42 chapters, each offering a simple yet profound philosophy of his regarding training (working out). I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a passion for training and lifting weights.
One takeaway I got from the book is the simple notion of “less is more”, especially when it comes to training. Now this principle can be applied to every aspect of life (yeah, that means you guy on the T every morning that wears an entire bottle of cologne, one squirt goes a long way buddy) but all too often people grossly overestimate the amount of time each week they need to spend working out to get body transforming results.
On the flipside, 20 minutes of elipticalizing your butt isn’t going to do crap. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that an “8 minute abs” is going to do crap for you either but spending an hour or more each day in the gym to get the best results.
Like I have said in the past, diet plays a HUGE role in helping you dig through those layers of fat to where your abs are. Yes, you have them so doing 5,600,601 crunches will not do much to uncover them. I have spoke pretty ademently on the deleterious effects of doing situps and crunches so I won’t get into that but here are links to those posts if you missed them, here and here.
For bodybuilders, this would be blasphemy since they focus on bodyparts and choose 4 different exercises to blast their biceps. For the rest of us, we only need a few key exercises to train certain movements like pushing, pulling, squatting and bending. They might not be the most glamorous exercises but pushups, rows, squats, deadlifts, and every plank variation you can think of.
Here are 2 sample workouts for the week:
1- deadlifts 5×5
2 – pullups(assisted if needed) superset with overhead press
3 – metabolic circuit*
1 – sqauats 5×5
2 – pushups superset with inverted bodyweight rows
3 – metabolic circuit*
Now, if your goal is to burn body fat and get stronger without bulking up (females worry about this, I don’t know why) then doing 5 sets of 5 repetitions is the way to go. And make sure the weight is challenging but you are able to maintain perfect form so start slapping on some weight and do some work for god’s sake. The key is to work hard, stay consistent, eat smart, and continue to increase the weight. Remember: to improve your fitness and get results, you need change (this can be intensity, duration, weights, or exercises but it IS important to get rusults).
*here is a link to an article by Alwyn Cosgrove on metabolic circuits and other finishers to give your metabolism a kick in the right direction. In my opinion, these are way more fun than cardio and give you much better results.