Work out more doing less

Return back in time with me to our nethanderal ancestors as I run a scenario by you: Tharg and the rest of the males of hunting age within the clan are off to hunt mammoths (yum!) when he notices his good ‘ol mate Org is missing. So, being an all-round decent chap, Tharg tells the lads to wait and personally stops in at Org’s cave where the following conversation takes place…

THARG: “Org you meathead, its mammoth day. Saddle up buddy!”

ORG: “Tharg bro, I did triceps yesterday and spear-thrusting, well, it’s a push isn’t it? Which means I’d be using my triceps two days in a row and impact both my rest and recovery and that Tharg, well, that will impact gains bro.”

THARG: “Gotcha! Say, does the draft in here ever blow up your vagina?”

The point I’m trying to make is that we’re shit-scared of working out a lot. That’s it. You can’t make it any more clearer, can you? Or maybe we’re just shit-scared of over training which as I’ve stated in other articles, isn’t an issue for most of us because we don’t stress our bodies like powerlifters, bodybuilders, professional athletes or under water yoga instructors do.

Yeah, I made the last one up.

If we all had mint genetics and high-quality gear (steroids) we could do isolation body-part splits till Jesus came back and grow like Satanic motherfuckers. But. If you have neither and yet you’re doing body-part splits with a leg day, chest-tri day, back-bicep day you get the idea, then it’s likely you’re one of the 99% of people who don’t grow from this. Not in the long run anyway. Did you get that?

99% of people is pretty darn close to everyone, huh?

Yes. Yes it is.

So when the 99% bases their work-outs on what the 1% of elite bodybuilders do yet have no genetic inheritance or access to gear let alone trainers, dieticians, equipment, time, sponsorship, nitrates, back-slapping, stadium-sized sound systems or anal bleaching that the 1% enjoy, then the 99% needs to go home and fist their own prostates — without lube, mind — because they are stupid.

…say, are you stupid?

Stepping up to 3–5 day workouts per week is a good idea for most of us irrespective of what program you use personally (upper/lower, push/pull or whatever) but guess what? You can work out more doing less exercise and still make great progress because that’s how the human body works: every day we pull, push, climb, turn, squat, bend, reach, grab, lift, throw you fucking name it.

E-V-E-R-Y day.

So why don’t you weight-train like that? The fictional Org in my opening scenario is an example of yet another sucker convinced that isolating one body part/muscle group per week or every two days or whatever the fuck you do, is set in stone. It isn’t. But most of us are never going to move past this because we’ve entrenched ourselves in the rut of believing you have to work out this way.

Remember I said you could work out more doing less exercise? I meant it. Choose three compound exercises and hit them 4–5 days a week. Do it for 2–3 months. That’s it. I went with a squat, push and pull four days a week with clean-and-press, deadlifts and rack pulls on Friday. Boom. All those vital isolation exercises so imperative and important and necessary and crucial for building calves, hamstrings, neck, forearms, triceps and biceps?

Fuck ‘em.

Drop the lot. They’ll still be there when you’re done.

Here’s what I’m currently doing…remember, I base everything off body weight:


Squat 3 x 10 (light, medium and heavy-ish i.e. 70–80% of your 1RM)

1 x set of balls-to-the-wall pull ups

3 x 3 benchpress roundabout 80–90% of your 1RM


Squat 3 x 5 or 5 x 3 at 90% of your 1RM

Bent over barbell rows 3 x 5 (light, medium, heavy i.e. round body weight up)

20 x push ups


Squat 5–4–3–2–1 increasing weight so the last rep is 10kg less than your 1RM. Then bang out singles

1 x set of balls-to-the-wall pull ups

3 x 3 benchpress roundabout 80–90% of your 1RM


Squat 20 x light-medium weight (for me that’s about two-thirds my bodyweight i.e. 65kg)

Bent over barbell rows 3 x 5 (light, medium, heavy i.e. round bodyweight up)

20 x push ups


Push-press OR clean and press a light-medium weight for 10min. Fuck yourself up

Deadlift one set at 70% of your 1RM till you can’t anymore. Do NOT fuck yourself up

Rack pulls starting at 100kg and adding 10kg each time till you can’t

I’m still in this cycle so I’ll let you know how it turns out in 6wks time or so. Trust me when I tell you these compound lifts will hit you all over such that I seriously doubt you’ll lose any gains. I haven’t. What I have been surprised (and pleased) to discover is that you really can squat often and feel a million bucks. I’ve fallen in love with squats in a way I didn’t think I could and yeah, I’m getting stronger.

Talking about stronger, I don’t buy into the whole keep-adding-poundage-each-week line. I increase the weight anywhere from 2–5kg only when I’m doing more reps in the last set (see my 3x3 article for clarification on this). Sometimes I don’t increase weight at all, I simply do more reps. If I don’t increase weight for 2–3wks I’m not fussed. This ain’t no summer-body gig, lifting is for life now. You can bury me with my barbell.

In closing, give this a go someday. Maybe not now, maybe not in the first half of the year, but what about the second half? Or over Christmas through into the New Year? Copy my program if you want, adapt it, whatever, but seriously you can grow more doing less and you’ll be amazed at strength gains and endurance. Once you get your bulk-on you can start with the isolation treatment later to bring up weak areas.

Kia ora koutou!

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