T Nation

Simplifying your training!

Sometimes I feel that with all the programs available and all the expert strength coaching advice, we tend to overcomplicate things. With the arrival of Charles Staley’s EDT program, I realized that training should be less complicated. I’ve been using EDT training for a few weeks now, and I really like the idea behind it. My workouts are short, intense, and fairly high volume with improvements nearly every week. But I’ve taken it a step further. I’ve simplified my training to include what I feel are the most basic exercises.

For example, my leg day consisted of front squats, deadlifts and seated/standing calf raises. I spent 20 minutes each on squats and deadlifts which came to 5-6 sets of 5-6 reps. It was a simple, yet extremely effective workout. For my back/triceps day, I use chins/dips, seated rows/triceps extensions and t-bar rows/reverse grip pushdowns. I do 15-minute time frames and complete about 5-7 sets per time frame. For chest/biceps/shoulders, I’ve been focusing on incline benches soley for chest - 20-25 minutes. And hammer curls, dummbell curls and preacher curls (in 10-minute time frames) for biceps. For shoulders, I finish with standing overhead presses.

I’m sure some of you feel that there isn’t enough variety, but with the use of the most basic exercises, you are covering all bases. And every few weeks, I rotate exercises so that it never becomes stale, and I don’t cause any muscle imbalances. So I think it’s important to keep your workouts simple. Why do 5-10 different exercises per bodypart when one or two will work you more thouroughly? This is just a thought I’ve had the last few weeks, and I can attest that it’s working quite well for me. I see too many people trying to put together overcomplicated programs when they would make much better progress just sticking to a few of the basics.

I couldn’t agree w/ you more Nate Dogg. I did the exact same thing. I keep the workouts short w/ 2-3 exercises per muscle group, but at a very intense level (focusing on form, tempo, etc…). I kept all the ‘big’ compound lifts, and throw in 1 or 2 other lifts as well. I usually switch programs every 6 weeks and with the time I’ve saved on preparing the workouts, I’ve used towards my diet and planning nutrition. Glad to see it’s working for you!
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I agree 100%. Get in get out, I ike going to he gym, but I can think of other things that would rather be doing. I your an active person it makes sense. If your lifting program is short and simple,then you do not have to be so concerned with over training when you pursue other athletic endeavors.

Yeah, right. Get your ass in the gym, and then get out. Quality, not quantity. I prefer basics - squats, deads, benches, etc.

I'm right there with you Nate.

I’m in my second week of a similar routine Dogg. I do four 35 to 45 minute workouts per week (actually every other day) and work each body part twice a week. I do upper body in one workout and lower in the second. With little break between supersets of antagonistic muscles, it actually has an aerobic benefit also. After two weeks at this pace, I will then cut back for two weeks to 3 workouts per week so that each bodypart will be worked 3 times in two weeks. This is my “recovery” period. I am using compound movements only. So far I like it. However, it still sticks in my mind what Ian King has said about the number of different exercises per bodypart being more important than the total number of sets. That being said, I also found King’s workouts too voluminous and it lead to fatigue and overtraining in my case. I guess the point is that after 43 years of working out, I still don’t know what the f%#@ I’m doing!

Amen Nate Dogg. I whole heartedly agree. My workouts totally focus on the basic compound lifts with a few other excercises thrown in. Volume is relatively low and intensity of effort is kept high. Every 5-6 weeks I change a few excercises or simply reverse the order of everything. I actually like doing squats last on a leg day. I don’t have to warm up, I can just go to my working weight and pound them out. Maybe I’m not reaching optimal development with this program, but it’s quick, easy to stick to, takes minimal planning and keeps me pretty strong.It also leaves me with energy to do other physical activities, like fight fires at work. Few normal people can devote all there physical energy to getting bigger and stronger. Many of us need strength for functional purposes, wheather that be an occupation or a sport. For the last 5 wks I’ve been giving HST a spin and actually noticing some decent results. I’m not getting overtrained at all and enjoy the short workouts. I know it’s not a totally original or revolutionary program ,but what ones truly are.

I agree if your only chasing muscle hypertrophy, but if you are an athlete or really care about being really strong, you can afford to complicate things a little more.

It’s interesting to see so many people doing dozens of exercises per bodypart and not making many gains. When you focus on one or two exercises, you can put everything into your workout. I’ve always talked about using the basics, but following something similar to EDT (forgetting about rep ranges, TUT, sets, etc) and using time periods seems to make so much more sense. Goldberg, I think this method works well for both strength or hypertrophy. But for an athlete, things may be more complicated in the fact that they would have other types of training to follow, but I still think their weight-training workouts would remain quite simple. Look at Ben Johnson’s training under Charlie Francis. They focused on a few exercises during weight-training days. The complicated stuff is the periodization and sprint workouts. So for most people, sticking to the basics and keeping it simple is key. I’m glad to hear that others are following a similar program and getting good results. Keep it up!

My workouts consist of 3 full-body workouts per week using 4 exercises. 1) Olympic lift; 2) Squat; 3) Press; 4) Pull – that’s it. The supertraining forum had a dicussion not long ago about the “big 5” exercises (Squat, deadlift, Bench Press, Snatch, Clean and Jerk – someone also suggested a 6th, pullups) and that these and their variants are about all most need. I think there may be a good deal of truth to this.

Due to lack of time thanks to college work,I get into the gym,usually do bench press,squats,pullups and deadlifts every workout,interchanging between squats/deadlifts.

I agree that few exercises should be used. I dont see the need in performing a million exercises. The basics have always and will always work the best.