It’s about time the weather starts cooperating with the season since we had yet another nasty snow storm on April Fools Day.  However it does look like the next 5 days are going to be in the mid 50’s so get ya ass outside and enjoy it.  I know if I didn’t have work to do I would be out there too.  But since I do I plan to be at my desk all day.

Lindsay just took off with Koa to go on a run by the beach and I am staying back today to bang out a quick post and then focus on studying for the C.S.C.S. exam all day.  It has been 3 months since I last took it (I missed one section by one question) so I can register for next week and this time there is no way in hell I am going to fail.

Since I have clients morning, noon, and night all week this is my only time to study.  It’s almost like being back in college except I’m not hung over and there is a glass of green tea next to me rather than a beer.

So in honor of sucking it up and staying inside on this gorgeous day I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts on priorities in the gym and in life.  After all, we all have priorities but sometimes (most of the time) we don’t follow them.

How many times do you see that guy in the gym that complains about how much his shoulders suck and yet does bench 2-3x/week?  Or how about the guy that says he is super tight and has the hips of a 80 year old woman and has no time to stretch but spends all his time on the plate loaded machines?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about you gettin ya’ fitness on but it is safe to say there are better (much better) things you could be focusing your time on.  This goes for you too guy who has an “arms day”.

I do realize that the typical layperson may not realize what their priorities are so I am going to make it simple and present a few scenarios in which I prioritize all your fitness needs.  You can take the advice of a professional or you can keep not getting results.  Your choice.

You are overweight, have tight hips and shoulders and are new to exercise.

I thought I would start with the most common scenario in most gyms: the newbie.  This is the most common new client I meet with as well and when I ask what they have been doing the consensus seems to be treadmill jogging or using the elliptical for 45-60min 3-5x/week.  You have much to learn young Skywalker.

For most people trying to lose weight I suggest training in this very particular order:

  1. Fix your diet- I will be brief here but if you don’t fix your diet and eating habits nothing you do as far as exercise is concerned will help you out.  You can NOT train through a shitty diet.
  2. Injury prevention: soft tissue and mobility work- There are exceptions but most if not all people who I have worked with that are new to fitness are tight as hell and highly susceptible to injury.  This should be your warm-up EVERY time you go to the gym.  If you get injured you ain’t losin’ no weight so this should be your first priority.
  3. Learn the lifts– For a beginner, it is more beneficial to learn proper technique of the big lifts/movements such as squats, deadlifts, pushups, rows, and pullups.  Once you learn proper technique and exercises the rest is just good programming and hard work.
  4. Heavy, full-body resistance training (2-3x/week)-Science has proven time and time again that the exercises that involve the most muscle affect your metabolism the most.  Heavy resistance training has also been proven to keep your metabolism elevated for several days post training.  This is your go-to for fat loss.
  5. Circuit training (2-3x/week)– Another tried and true method for burning the shit outta fat.  Incorporate some heavy movements and you are killing two birds with one stone, cardio and resistance training.  It is also more efficient than sitting on the end of the bench waiting to do another set, and another, and another.
  6. Interval training (1-2x/week)– Much more efficient and beneficial than doing slow, steady state cardio when it comes to fat loss.  Not to mention improving your cardiorespiratory fitness in general.  Interval training will affect your metabolism post session similar to resistance training as well.

Well there are your top 6 priorities and sorry but the elliptical didn’t make the cut.  But, if you are really good and get your priorities straight (see #1-6) then I will allow you to hop on the elliptical for a….revolution.  Spin?  What do you even call what you are doing on the elliptical?  Ellipticaling?  Meh.

You have shitty shoulders and yet you still bench.

This is directed towards most guys, especially the ones who train 5 days a week with weights (3 of which are bench press days).

  1. Stop benching- Duh.
  2. Shoulder mobility and rehab work- Use a tennis ball or get massage in the anterior delt and pec as you are probably tight as shit.  Do some rehab exercises on MOST days such as No-Moneys, external rotations, face-pulls, and do some pec stretching.
  3. Pull 2x as much as you push- In this case you should still not be benching.
  4. If you must bench, switch to dumbbells or weighted pushups–  I do more of this with most if not all of my clients as it is more beneficial in most cases.  Doing pushups gets your scapula moving more naturally and is healthier for your shoulders.  Most guys have terrible form for pushups to begin with so this may be where to start.  Get off the damn straight bar.

And if your shoulders are still hurting after #4 then stop pushing things and get it looked at by a professional.  This should be a no brainer but most guys thing priority #1 in the gym is always benching.  Just go to a Planet Fitness on a Monday.

You lead the life of a superstar and have extremely limited time in the gym each week.

Life gets busy sometimes and when push comes to shove, you have to decide what must go.  I may be a little biased but I do not believe that you should cut fitness out of your life completely.  You just have to be a little diligent of what you train and how you train.

  1. Injury prevention: soft tissue and mobility work- I am going to be a broken record with this one but if you have terrible posture, move like a rusty action figure and have “bad knees” bicep curls may not be the best use of your time.  Foam roll, stretch, move, and focus on correcting your shitty posture.
  2. Exercises that involve the most muslces- If I only have 20 minutes to work out twice a week then you sure as shit won’t see me jogging on the treadmill or doing pec flys on a weight machine.  Heck, you won’t see me doing that if I had 60min to work out 5x a week.  If I could Pick 3 exercises to train because I had little to no time to train I would focus on heavy deadlifts (you may substitute squats) one day and Turkish Get-Ups and Pull-ups the other day.  Pretty sure those three exercises cover all your bases.  If you suck at these exercises, get good at them then talk to me.
  3. If you have extra time to do “cardio” then do something explosive- This can be interval training (I will allow elliptical if you must but don’t condone this method) or circuit training.  If I am really pressed for time I will go toe to toe with sled, battling ropes, and a kettlebell.  Try 20 swings, followed by 30s of rope and a heavy sled push only resting enough to catch your breath and repeating for 10min.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you cough up a lung.

It is ok to be busy in life but if you don’t think your health is important than you are sadly mistaken.  You don’t even have to workout in the gym, do some pushups, squats, and lunges at home and you got yourself a dem dere workout.

Thats about it since I have to get back to studying but these are just a quick look into where your priorities should be in your training.  One thing to notice is that each list starts with injury prevention work.  If you get injured you won’t be doing anything and that is pretty counterproductive in my opinion.

In short, do what is the most beneficial to help you reach your goal and stop doing the things that aren’t.  Pretty simple right?

Written by Steve