Over the past few weeks, I had the privilege of having a number of folks travel from afar just to work with me here at Primal Fitness Pittsburgh. It’s been great meeting fitness aficionados from around the globe and its been an ever greater thrill to workout with these people one-on-one. When I have someone traveling in to work with me, I always get the same request for an “ass kicker” of a workout. Anyone that knows me and trains with me here at Primal Fitness Pittsburgh knows that I have a knack for doing dense workouts that push your limits in terms of endurance, but NOT in terms of, what I will refer to as, “the body beat-down.” I believe that the ass-kicking nature of my workouts and programs is due to how I personally stack basic movement patterns on top of each other, thereby making the workout and movements more challenging when you train.
Allow me to explain.
I am a strength and conditioning coach, but my fitness modality functions primarily on human movement as the foundation of all strength. As unfortunate as it sounds, the truth of the matter is a vast majority of our general population cannot move well at all. Movement compensations can arise for a number of reasons, most notably from long standing injuries, sitting for 8 or more hours a day at a desk job, or from just lack of movement in general. Over the years, I have spent countless amounts of hours working with clients who had serious mobility problems and programmed their workouts to focus on the basic movements (pushing, pulling, hinging and squatting) well before adding additional weights from kettlebells. Movement systems like the Functional Movement System, Ground Force Method, and Original Strength are extremely helpful for screening clients and addressing movement compensations, and I have used a number of these methodologies to essentially restore proper movement patterns in my clients (I’ll save all the nitty gritty details of these methods for another blog post). My point in addressing this issue of movement is to make a case for why intense exercise can kick your butt, but not maim your movement.
I’m baffled by the number of “shiny objects” we have in the fitness industry that seem to bombard and entirely confuse our populous about what defines a “good workout.” Turn on the television and I’m sure you can count at least 15 infomercials all about the next fatloss trend coming straight to your door for only three payments of $99.95. Nine times out of ten, these programs are too extreme, unsustainable, and more than likely going to set you up for burn out and injury. What is the point of working out if you can’t recover and hurt yourself 3 weeks into a 90 day program? If you enjoy this sort of beat-down fitness routine, ask yourself and be completely honest as to why you’re training in the first place. A better question may even be “what are you training for. . .really?”
Here’s how to break down the sign of a good workout.
Does the workout focus on the basic movement patterns? (the push, the pull, the hinge, the squat). Yes? DO THE THING! No? Move along.
Does the workout leave you feeling energized and ready to take on the day? Yes? It’s a winner! No? Hit the hot tub and come back in about a week when you’ve fully recovered.
Does the workout help you perform better in your daily life? (picking up groceries, handling your stressful job, playing with your kids). Yes? That’s a keeper! No? (Do I really need to say more here?)
Does the workout focus on incremental changes that lead to overall strength over time? Yes? BOOM! No? Sorry folks, you can’t rush strength, nor can you rush the process of getting strong. You can toss all those supplements you’re taking to add to your strength out the window too. They are probably causing more harm than good.
I rest my case.
Here’s a workout I did with one of my friends that hits the nail right on the head in terms of time efficiency and intensity all while focusing on proper movement.
5 Push ups
10 Kettlebell Rows (5 Right and 5 Left)
15 Two Handed Kettlebell Swings
20 Jump Squats
Set your timer for 10 minutes and perform as many rounds as you can in that 10 minutes (and believe me this is all you’ll need). Want to make it more fun? Bring a friend!
I’m forever humbled by the basics in my own programs and the programs I write for clients here at Primal Fitness Pittsburgh. Mastering the basic movement patterns leads to better performance at the gym and outside the gym, and it will make for one badass you in the long term. Keep your training simple and safe, and you’ll find that by doing so you can train more intensely which makes your workout all the more effective 😉
Until next time. .
Master your instincts!