This is my personal approach to strength training. K.I.S.S. stands for Keep It Simple Stupid!
You want a bigger squat, bench, deadlift, and overhead press? Then why do you do all these other useless movements as your main focus? Curling 90 lbs dumbbells as your first excercise won’t help you achieve your goals in any of these lifts, so why are you performing curls 3 times a week? Want to be strong? Here is your first step:
Knowing the Difference
Bodybuilders can work up to training 5 days a week, 2 times a day, for a couple of weeks. However, their goals are different from yours. Bodybuilders want to shock their muscles, and don’t typically lift heavy weights (75%+ of max) in compound movements all the time.
You, as a strongman, powerlifter, strength seeker, want to condition and strengthen not only your muscles, but your central nervous system, ligaments,tendons, and joints as well. Because you are squatting, pressing and deadlifting relatively heavy, this takes a greater toll on your body and mind. Remember you aren’t just working out – you are training. That being said:
Keep it Simple Stupid, LESS IS MORE
Keep it simple. Stick to basic compound movements as the focus of your training. (Pre-exhaustion has its place in training, just not here. You want to be 100% for your big lifts)
Assistance Movements. Alternate your assistance movements so they are assisting your weak points. (If lockouts/triceps are your strong point on bench press, then your assistance work should be more focused on your other body parts such as lats, chest and shoulders, and sticking point movements such as floor presses, speed work, cambered bar presses, etc.)
Compound and Isolation. Add in one compound assistance movement* and 2-4 isolation movements*, and be done with it. *Once Again alternate exercises. (don’t over do it, what I mentioned is enough)
Training Frequency. Don’t Train more then 4 days a week if that much. Your body needs rest to recover. (Typically your body needs at least 2-3 days before pressing movements, and up to 7-10 days before squatting and deadlift heavy again, depending on how close you’re lifting to your 1 rep max.)
De-load Periods. De-load/REST, when you feel run down. If you’re not feeling 100%, then you’re not going to lift 100%, or break past your Max 100% lift. (One week of light speed and technique work, or of complete rest will not make your weaker. Quite the opposite. It gives your body more time to rest and recover. However, never resting will lead to over-training, C.N.S fatigue, and even worse, injury. And these will make your weak(er!)
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Avoid over-training and Injury. (Put your ego away, and pay attention to your body’s warning signs. (If your body really hurts, it’s telling you HEY A-Hole, Let me REST and RECOVER!!!)
You know your body better then anyone else. Find training programs that are relevant to what you want to do.
Plan your workouts around your life and make it work. (Try following my K.I.S.S Method)
Realism. Be realistic, train smart.
Balance. Keep your training balanced! If you are going to squat and deadlift the same day like I do, don’t plan a million different isolation and assistance exercises after. Squatting and deadlifting virtually hit almost every muscle there is, so your assistance should be kept quick and light:
Example assistance’s after the Big Two:
- Front Squats for Quads
- Good Mornings for Hamstrings
- Lunges for Both
- Hammer curls for biceps and forearms
*You should be done now* (I am not going to do 20 rep squats, then some box squats with chains, and finish off with18 inch deadlifts now, and kill my body even more. I am not going to only hit my hamstrings, just because they are lagging and avoid quads completely. Be SMART about your training. I already said less is more.) If that is too much don’t do it.
Goals. Prioritize your goals… If they conflict, cycle them.
Like doing heavy front squats and overheads, but your squat and bench press feel weaker after you do them. Pick one for a 4-6 week cycle to focus more on it, or change emphasis weekly. HOWEVER DO NOT NEGLECT your muscles and strength lifts. Alternate them, and focus frequently and remain balanced.
If you’re working the same muscles, either lift will be stronger as long as you keep working on technique and let your body be familiar with both movements. Ultimately though, you must find out what is most important to you, and deal with it. If you like lifting heavy, but don’t feel athletic, add in some stretching, foam rolling, light cardio and mobility work.
But if you want to lift heavy, don’t sacrifice your power keg – which keeps your core safe and strong for big lifts - for a wimpy 6-pack that will make all your lifts go down. You don’t need to be fat to be strong, but you can’t be thin and scrawny either, and then expect to lift big.