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Having recently been struck with paralysis by analysis and losing interest with my training, I decided it was time for me to get back to basics with my own training. Every time I turned up to the gym I had so many ideas going through my head that I would end up completely doubting the workout I was doing and if it was the right thing to be doing at that time. They say the “best programme” is always the one you’re not doing right now. I’ve found that the more books I read and the more research I do and the more programmes I learn the more confused I get. I decided I needed to pick one simple programme and stick to it.

So here’s where to start.

This is a great programme to get you in the gym, keep you in the gym and get you strong. The bare minimum is to get in the gym perform the basic lift and get out in 25 minutes or less. This is generally more effective than what most people do in their 90 minute workouts. The main goal and idea behind this workout is to get you to the gym and get you in the habit of training regularly.

So here’s the plan for week 1

I believe everyone should get stronger, it will help with all sports and decrease your risk of injury and in the long run will help with body composition when carrying out a hypertrophy programme.

Strength Assessment

  • Go to the gym
  • Work out your 5 rep max on back squat, bench press, overhead press and deadlift all on separate days if possible
  • Record it in a notebook/piece of scrap paper/excel spreadsheet

If you have body composition goals e.g lose fat, get lean, build muscle then also carry out the following assessments.

Body Composition Assessment

  • Get a partner
  • Take a photo in your pants/bikini
  • Buy some skinfold callipers (you can get them for about £10)
  • Take each others skin fold measurements, the  more you take the better, I would suggest chin, cheek, pec, tricep, subscapular, mid axillary, umbilical, suprailliac, knee, calf. If you don’t know how, look on the internet it’s easy!
  • Buy a tape measure
  • Take girth measurements, neck, bicep, thigh, hips, waist, chest, etc
  • Write down the measurements and date them

If you have fitness goals try this

Fitness Assessments

  • Get on a treadmill or a running track
  • Get a stop watch
  • Run as far as you can in 12 minutes, you can’t get off the treadmill or stop but you cant walk
  • Record your distance

So my plan is to start with the basics, get strong and get back into the habit of training regularly. 4 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes, everyone can do that? If you can’t then train twice a week for 40 minutes and pair an upper and lower body lift like squat and bench press on the same day – not ideal but life’s not meant to be easy. So my workout on squat day would be 5 sets of 5 reps with the heaviest weight I can lift for 5 reps, Take a couple of sets to warm up and on set 5 go for broke, perform as many reps as you can until you feel sick. Go home. (Each week try to lift a little bit more, 1-2kg is cool.)

When you have the habit set then decide what your next priority is. Mine is to get lean, so I will add on the same exercise each day but with a focus on hypertrophy gains. So on bench press day I will do 5 sets of 5 reps heavy with big rests then go straight into 5 sets of 10 reps at about 50-60% of my 1 rep max with smaller rest of 45-60 seconds. Then go home. Simple and effective! Get strong and lean!

2 habits now set. Time to decide on your next goal. I’m not so flexible at the bottom of my squat so I will add in some extra mobility work and more stretching at the end of my session to improve my squat. Get strong, get lean, get flexible! (If you can’t squat in the first place your priority will be to develop your squat)

Next habit, I need to stay fit and conditioned so I will add in some kettlebell circuits. I like kettlebells so I know I will stick to them. Get strong, get lean, get flexible, get fit!

So now my programme is looking pretty complete. Strength gains, hypertrophy, flexibility and conditioning. I’m covering all the bases I need and I enjoy my workouts. Your goals may be slightly different but just remember start with the basics and work from there. I started off with a long list of things that I wanted to achieve and then worked through a process of elimination so that I was left with the most effective and necessary parts of my workout. No fluff! I would suggest you do the same, make your decision and then stick with it for at least 4 weeks. You should learn a lot in those 4 weeks and then change and adapt if you need to.

The key is to keep progressing your weights in the main lifts to keep you motivated, anything else is a bonus.

This programme is an adaptation of Jim Wendler’s 531 programme. If you would like a full run down of the programme either get the book or inbox me and I would be happy to go through it with you.

In terms of your nutrition I would follow a very similar principle. Keep it simple and set small habits each week. Don’t confuse yourself with too much information. Drink more water, eat more protein, include more nutrient dense vegetables, don’t avoid healthy fats. Simples

Good luck and don’t be scared to ask any questions.


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