Simple NOT Easy – by Jamie Bolton

Every day we’re faced with problems. Every one tends to have a simple answer. Often an easy one too. Rarely do the two coincide (but it’s beauty when they do).

Want to gain strength? Then your best friend is 5/3/1, your simple but not easy answer.

Want to lose fat – then eat healthier and eat less carbs. Damn simple, apparently not ‘easy’, despite that being a pretty simple prescription.

The reality is most people know exactly what they need to do in the broadest sense in order to meet their goals.

Look at it like this, take the obesity epidemic in the western world. Are you really trying to tell me that these people don’t know what they need to do to lose weight? In short, they need to eat less and move more. It isn’t more complicated than that. Heck for 90% of people out there, their goals could be met with similarly simple, one sentence prescriptions.

People are all too willing, and wanting, to listen to the ‘easy’ answer – the ‘grapefruit’ diets, the ‘double your bench in a day’ type crap that gets plugged constantly. You know what too – it sells a tonne. Why? Because it sounds EASY – an excuse to not work hard. It’s easier to look for the quick fix, the fad, that promises 100% results and 0% effort. People seem oblivious to the bullshit being pushed on them, which fails every time (but people still buy the crap). The irony is they don’t seem to learn, and when the same rubbish is repackaged and pushed on them 6 months later, they fall for it again.

Enough said...

To me, time wasted looking for the easy answer is ‘harder’ in the sense that it’s flawed and inevitably doesn’t work. Why waste time mentally masturbating over some new fad? If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. The basics in diet, training, even in life do not change that much. The simplest route is nearly always the most effective. The ‘easiest’ route most of the time isn’t even a route. Well it is, but it’s one that halfway there has a load of u-turn marks as people fail and end up back where they started.

Maybe it’s just mindset. For me, improving my conditioning is as simple as doing more hill sprints. Leaning out as simple as cutting back some carbs and calories. Stronger as simple as busting my balls in training. Easy? Perhaps not, but it gets easier.

So simple, yet so hard for people to adopt and do!!!

There are time proven, and proven again results. Most people know what they need to do. But people somehow think the ‘eat chocolate on monday, only soup on tuesday….’ rubbish or whatever is being shouted about now somehow has something the old stuff doesn’t.  Ask any respected coach (read: one that has been around longer than the latest fad), heck ask a bunch, and you’ll see more similarities in their approaches than differences. Why? Because there is no magic pill !

‘Complexity’ or ‘looking for the easy way’ detracts from getting on the quickest, most effective path to results. Look for the ‘simplest’ path, start walking down it and get to results-ville. There is no easy option. Just simple hard work. To quote the legend once again: “The route to our goals is simple, not easy.” – Dan John.

Until next time. Train Hard. Train Smart. Be Strong.

When Life Gets in the Way – by Jamie Bolton

We’ve all been there when life just seems to ‘get in the way’of our regular schedule. Deadlines at work, family overload, prior engagements and holidays, to name but a few.Often the difference between those who get results on a consistent basis and those who don’t, is that the former find ways to work around obstacles that pop up in life and get the time in the gym done.
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Some of this is psychological for sure, they MAKE time to train. But a plenty of it isn’t. It’s about being intelligent with the time you have and getting something in regardless.
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It’s about going from say 6 sessions at an hour a piece, and squeezing them down to 3 sessions a week at 45mins each, but still moving in the right direction. Heck, time may be even more pressing than that and it means stripping it down to even 2 sessions a week of 40mins. But you can still be moving forward. If you train intelligently.
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At its core, the key to this approach is stripping out what provides a weak investment of your time, and focusing on the big compounds that offer the best bang for your buck. It’s a pretty simple concept, and it works fantastically well.
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Yet why do people struggle then when time is short? I believe it’s fear. Fear that by dropping the barbell curls their arms will suddenly shrink, that without every conceivable raise their shoulders will morph back into their former-narrower selves. Believe me they won’t. You can give every bodypart enough stimulation so it at least maintains whilst training like this, and the majority of bodyparts can still grow. If you do it intelligently.g
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I like to use the 80/20 principle a lot, and here is no different – 20% of what you do gives you 80% of your results. Using the former example: 6 sessions a week @ 1 hour each is 6 hours total gym time; 3 sessions at 45mins each gives you 2 hours 30mins. Thats still 41.6% of our former gym time. Plenty, then to still achieve at LEAST 80% of our former results.
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There are a million and one ways you could set this up. So I’ll just show you what I like to use when I’m short on time. I take a full-body approach, training 3x per week. I’m a huge, huge fan of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1, if you haven’t come across it, look it up. This is my fall-back to program. It’s my baseline for comparison. When time presses, I use this to get by in the following way.
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Sunday:

Squat – 5/3/1 Method
Bench Press – 5/3/1 Method
Pull ups – between every set of pressing
Conditioning – DB Swings 3×50

Tuesday:
Power Clean – 5/3/1 Method
Dips – 4×8
Pendlay Row – 4×8
Conditioning – Farmers walks 6x50m

Thursday:
Deadlift – 5/3/1 Method
Overhead Press – 5/3/1 Method
Pull ups – between every set of pressing
Conditioning – Complexes 3×8

Nothing terribly fancy. All bang for buck exercises and nothing more. That said, the tuesday session typically may leave me with 5-10mins extra free, in which case I just play it by ear and add some isolation work if I fancy it. Each day also begins with 3×6 of the JB complex to warm up. I’ll also tend to do 3×5 at 80% of my top set afterwards for the main lifts.

Sometimes I don’t, like others I’m sure, have time even for 3x per week. In which case I go to 2x per week and drop the tuesday session, since it’s composed of mainly accessory work anyway. The Sunday and Thursday sessions are the bread and butter of the program. It also works the other way. Occassionally if I have extra time I wasn’t expecting, there’s room enough here to add a little more, like a few sets of hill sprints or some bodyweight circuits at home. You get the picture. The point is that training like this, there’s enough of a stimulus to keep you progressing, but likewise enough ‘room’ for recovery you can add a reasonable amount more before running into problems.

AWAY FROM HOME

When away from home, its a slightly different proposition. If I have access to a (decent) gym then I’ll crack on with as I wrote above. But if the gym’s shoddy, or rather, there isn’t one, then it’s time to get imaginative.

The first thing I do is to take my TRX Suspension Trainer with me. Suddenly that gives me plenty of options. It’s not very hard to think of a tonne of circuits you can set up with this and standard bodyweight movements. You might not be able to quite load movements enough for the lower rep ranges unsuprisingly (think 3-5reps say), but instead the point is to just focus on quality reps and to accumulate a lot of volume of work.

The Traveller's Best Friend

A simple example of what I might do as a circuit would be:

TRX Inverted Row x10
TRX supported one-legged squat x10
TRX Incline Push up x10

5-6 rounds of this with minimal rest and you’ll be toast. You can of course add more, but taper the number of rounds accordingly.

Wrap Up

I hope this gives you a good few ideas on how to strip down your training when life gets in the way and to be sure to train anywhere. There are a million and one possibilities of how to. How you do it isn’t necessarily important though. The point is that you do it. Sure, life might try to get in the way. But if your training is THAT important to you, then you should be able to squeeze it in, no matter what. Strip it down and hit the basics.

Great Reads – by Jamie Bolton

Today, I thought I’d share with you some recommended reading on the world of strength training. By no means an exhaustive list, but these are the best of the books I’ve read so far. Enjoy!
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Lifting Principles:
Science and Principle of Strength Training – Zatiorsky and Kraemer
Starting Strength – Mark Rippetoe & Lon Kilgore
High Threshold Muscle Building – Christian Thibaudeau
Strength Anatomy – Frederic Delavier
Never Let Go – Dan John
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Nutrition focused:
Nutrient Timing – John Berardi
Warrior Diet – Ori Hofmekler
Anabolic Diet – Mauro Di Pasquale
The Ketogenic Diet – Lyle Mcdonald
100 Healthiest foods on Earth – Jonny Bowden
Paleo Diet for Athletes – Loren Cordain
Eat Stop Eat – Brad Pillon
In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan

.Program-based books:

5/3/1 – Jim Wendler
Maxmimum Strength – Eric Cressey
Huge in a Hurry – Chad Waterbury
Scrawny to Brawny – John Berardi
You are Your Own Gym – Mark Lauren

.Different Angle:

Never let Go – Dan John
The Primal BluePrint – Mark Sisson
Four Hour Body – Timothy Ferris
Survival of the Fittest – Mike Stroud

 

I know what you’re going to ask what my choice would be if I could only pick 1 or 2. I’d have to go with – Never Let Go by Dan John, and the Primal BluePrint by Mark Sisson. These 2 in particular really changed the way I think about things. But all of the above are worth reading.
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Time to get your head in a book?
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