Part of my career is assessing other programs in schools and gyms. I use a pretty simple system when looking at weekly and monthly training. First, I simply just circle and note the number of times each of the Fundamental Human Movements appears in the training. My list is this:
Everything else! Usually, I am looking for groundwork here which includes Get Ups, tumbling, rolling and anything that gets people on the ground and back up.
My first review is simply to highlight the gaps in the training program. Generally, the answer inverts the above list. Missing from the programs is usually any kind of work on the floor, no Farmer Walks and the like, and lack of authentic deep squatting.
I have yet to find a program lacking in Bench Press and Curls!
Then, I tally up the variations of each movement. Often, I find perhaps five or six push exercises a week, but rarely more than a single squat type. It’s understandable as there are few squat variations that most can truly use. That’s an issue for further discussion, but getting coaches to teach Front, Back, Zercher and Overhead Squats does take a level of commitment.
The groundwork is important, literally, for survival. Learning to deal with slips and falls might save your life better than a peaked bicep. The Hinge work, from the deadlift to the Kettlebell swing, is the foundation of explosiveness and athletic movement. Loaded Carries supply work capacity better than anything I have discovered in training.
Groundwork, hinges and loaded carries make good football players great. They are hard work and demand a lot of time and energy.
But for many of us, we need the hormonal changes that come with strength training. We need the increases in strength, hypertrophy and mobility that come with proper strength training. The amount needed to do this is far less than most people think.
The research has been clear for sixty years: about 15-25 quality reps are all you need for strength, hypertrophy and power. In fact, this number might be too high for experienced strength athletes.
The following is a minimal approach to strength and hypertrophy training. There is a limited amount of variety with vertical and horizontal presses and pulls and two squat variations. Lean Body Mass increases are all about the big movements and increased load.
Strive to increase the load, but only if you are getting all the reps. Lift three days a week (M-W-F or T-Th-S). Warm up, cool down and do other work as appropriate.
Bench Press: 3 sets of 8 with one minutes rest (between sets)
Lat Pulldown (or Pull Up): 3 sets of 8 with one minutes rest
Back Squat: 3 sets of 8 with one minutes rest
Military Press: 5 sets of 5 with two minutes rest
Barbell (or appropriate machine) Row: 5 sets of 5 with two minutes rest
Front Squat: 5 sets of 5 with two minutes rest
Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 with two minutes rest
Lat Pulldown (or Pull Up): 5 sets of 5 with two minutes rest
Back Squat: 5 sets of 5 with two minutes rest
Workout D (The next week)
Military Press: 3 sets of 8 with one minutes rest
Barbell (or appropriate machine) Row: 3 sets of 8 with one minutes rest
Front Squat: 3 sets of 8 with one minutes rest
Day One: Workout A
Day Two: Workout B
Day Three: Workout C
Day One: Workout D
Day Two: Workout A
Day Three: Workout B
Day One: Workout C
Day Two: Workout D
Day Three: Workout A
Day One: Workout B
Day Two: Workout C
Day Three: Workout D
Now, assess your progress. If you feel better and look better, you might want to ask yourself why you do all those other things during your training time. Focusing on the right movements for your goal (in this case hypertrophy or lean body mass increases) simplifies the whole training process.