Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Keep it as simple as required

A simple piece of training advice is: Start with the basics.

Try to exhaust the possibilities of the easy stuff before you move onto the hard stuff.


If you start with the really hard stuff, it's going to be, well, hard. You don't have an adequate base of strength, balance, and technical skill yet in the basic version. That's going to severely limit the benefits of the exercise. It's better to do 10 solid bodyweight split squats on the floor than 10 crappy, off-balance, overweighted Bulgarian split-squats with your foot on a box.

Next, if you do master the advanced version quickly, you've exhausted the benefits of the progression. You've got nothing left in the bag of tricks to pull out to force more adaptations. The only thing you can do is keep doing the advanced version and load it up more and more.

An example of this is single-leg exercises. Start with step-ups and statics squats before you move on to lunges, reverse lunges, and lateral step-ups. Get a good split squat before you go onto Bulgarian split-squats, and a good dumbbell Bulgarian split-squat before you move up to squatting with bands, chains, or suspended kettlebells.

Ultimately, the lesson is to keep it as simple as you can while still benefiting from the exercise. Save the advanced stuff for when the basics aren't working so well anymore.

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