You can’t go wrong with the basics. You could get fit with no other movements than the push-up, pull-up, and body weight squat if you really wanted to.
And if you moved things to the gym, the staple barbell exercises of deadlift, squat, and overhead press will take you about as far as you want to go. But beyond the physical aspects, there are mental and emotional factors that play into the quality of your training. To take things to the next level you need try new skills, go with unilateral training and challenge your dogma.
Workout To The Next Level
Try A New Skill
The Olympic Lifts (cleans and snatches) have done this for me. I really sucked at these lifts when I first started them. Now, I only “kinda” suck. 🙂 The challenge of learning a new skill increases the required focus for training.
How many times have you been in the middle of a bench press and thought about your laundry?
The treadmill is the primary offender here – if you can watch Oprah or read a magazine while you train, you are not demanding enough of your body to be “training”. To take your workouts to the next level, select a skill that you are not good at and then practice. Learn how to do double-under’s with the jump rope. Train towards your first muscle up. Take a fencing, jiu-jitsu, or swimming class.
Select a skill that you find difficult initially and enjoy the mental and physical benefits as you progress.
Movements using only one arm or leg at a time increase the demands on balance, core stability, and coordination. Think one-arm push ups and single leg squats (pistols). But also, consider the turkish get-up, suitcase deadlift, and one arm versions of the snatch, push press, and overhead squat. Be sure to work both sides equally and enjoy the boost to your workouts from unilateral training.
Challenge Your Dogma
You’ve all seen me rant against long slow cardio and single joint bodybuilding movements. Well guess what I’m considering adding to my training. . . single joint bodybuilding movements.
Because I haven’t done them in YEARS! Because I’m curious to see if I am really on the right path. And so I’m going to test and track.
I might try a bodybuilding style training program for 4 – 6 weeks and see what happens. Certainly nothing catastrophic is going to happen. And who knows, I might just learn something along the way.
Anyone who trains for a while runs the risk of hitting plateaus. Often times the rut is not due to physical limitations, but is the result of the lack of mental and emotional stimulation that was present at the beginning stages of training when it was all still shiny and new. To take things to the next level you have to shake things up.
Destroy your comfort zone barriers by trying new skills and challenging your dogma.