Making your training effective: Simplicity is the Key

Posted: February 12, 2015 in Strength and Conditioning for Performance
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In order for a training regimen to work, it has to be executed on a regular basis and depending on Olythe goal, the different training variables should be varied to cause the wanted adaptations to happen. Many people who start a training program for the purpose of improving health would quit after only a few sessions. One reason may be expectations are high but effort given is low. And some individuals may think that a training program has to be complicated and sophisticated in order to work. A complicated routine may be perceived as doing a lot of work but in reality, the work done may be actually low since the load is low due to inability to adapt, or the total repetition is also low, due to constantly changing routine and exercise. It does not help doing a complicated routine if it cannot be sustained. One of the things which is not usually discussed in the reference books is that the training program that works is the one which  is simple and straightforward.


valstrengthtyraining.kbStrength coaches come from different backgrounds and the ones who can successfully train athletes have had their share of trial and error too. There are textbook references but they may not be pertaining to the exact condition and situation that we encounter. When I was younger, I was initially mentored by bodybuilders. The training program that I used to pattern my own training was that of bodybuilders. Then as I got to know some other mentors, as I read different books and articles, attended workshops & symposiums, and as I interact with different coaches, I got to understand some other methods & techniques. I started trying out different training programs on myself and those that worked were used with the athletes that I work with. As the years went by, there are more and more “re-discoveries”, fads, and trends. With all these training methods, it can be really confusing.


Having the opportunity to work with the top athletes in the Philippines and in another country in many different sports and from age 14 to 54, I have utilized a variety of training programs. And I have noticed a pattern manifest itself. I see it more often, now that I am aware of it. The training program that creates results is actually the simpler one. It is not the overly complicated routine. The complicated routine may work for a short while but things always change and situations change. When many factors which are beyond the control of the Strength Coach changes, it becomes difficult to implement the complicated routine. But most of the time, the “simpler” routine can still be implemented. Since it is quite simple, it can be flexible and modified to fit a situation, to lead to the training goal.


People normally expect quick results, and that it is easy to get bored doing the same routine over and over again. They might view a simple routine as boring, and not “state-of-the art”. But take a look at the trends, it is coming full circle. Early Strength Training programs emphasized compound lifts using simple barbells or just plain heavy stuff like logs and stones. As long as you lift well, train well consistently, and have a good recovery, good results follow. Then machines became quite popular.  Many other “ground breaking” and “state of the art” equipment were invented. They are really useful, but it does not mean that they are always superior to simpler equipment. It just depends on the situation and the goals. The more type of equipment, the more choices. And more choices sometimes creates confusion. In the Philippines, there may not be so much equipment to work with, but there is plenty of heart. I was lucky to have worked with athletes who want to become better. I consider myself lucky to have started working with a modest amount of equipment. Some equipment were even broken. That made me more creative on how to design a training program for a team with limited equipment and the athletes did improve. When I coached in another country, the situation is different. There are a lot of equipment, so much variety. It provides a different opportunity to learn. It is logistically easier and it allows us to work with a lot of different teams with different requirements. But if you were to make a record which equipment which most, if not all of us Strength Coaches in the institute where I work prefer to use- it would be the freeweights, more specifically the barbells. We have different backgrounds- some are locals, some are from parts of Europe, some are from South East Asia like me. But most if not all of us still would utilize freeweights. Irregardless of our background, and of our past experiences, it shows that we use the one which works. We use freeweights like barbells, most especially the Olympic barbells. I also see the big contribution of Kettlebell training especially in strength-endurance. The Olympic Barbell and Kettlebells are deceptively simple. But even in their simplicity, there are so many complex movements that can be done. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that Olympic barbells or the Kettlebells are the ultimate training equipment. It just depends on the training goal and the situation. I also personally like using bodyweight exercises for endurance and conditioning. The above equipment, including bodyweight exercises, demands that the user utilize almost all of the major joints and muscle groups in a coordinated and skillful way.


Think about it, you can utilize simple equipment, a simple routine, and produce outstanding results.


Here is an example of a part of a particular training program that I implement for a certain training phase:


Day 1:  Day 2:

Deadlift x 5s x 5r

Front Squat x 5s x 5r

Bench Press   x 5s x 5r

Pull ups 4s x 10r

2 arm swing    x 3s x 20r

Day 2:

Cleans 5s x 5r

Parallel Back Squat x 4s x 5r

Barbell Shoulder Press x 5s x 5r

Turkish Get up x 3s x 3r/3r

The first set is a warm up set. It can be made into an ascending pyramid (increasing weight per set) or just straight sets (same load). For this training, you only need a barbell, a bench press, and a kettlebell. It requires 24 to 48 hours recovery in between Strength training days. Boring? Well, an experienced lifter may not be so bored. With the right intensity, it is challenging. Depending on the athletes mobility and stability, it may take time to be able to do full range of motion. This training program is usually for those who have been training consistently for a few months and shows good mobility with sufficient strength. It can be for new athletes IF they have the required ability to execute the exercise in the required range of motion while still being able to stabilize their body with the load and it depends on their movement aptitude. Most new trainees may not yet exhibit those qualities. So if you look at it, it may seem so simple, yet it is for more “advanced” trainees.

If you want a dynamic warm-up that stretches your hip as well as strengthens your torso, click here.


No overly complicated stuff. Straight to the point. Simple. Efficient. Useful.

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