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This week, I’ll provide some tips on simple but effective workout routines, effective goal setting, and warm ups. I’ll also provide links to reads I’ve found beneficial, or simply – things I wish I’d written!

1. Minimalist Workouts

This came up in two ways: First, John Berardi at Precision Nutrition wrote an excellent and highly motivating article on simple training methods. It reminded me of how simple training can be, especially in a time crunch. It doesn’t need to be fancy, and it certainly beats missing training sessions. Second, several of my clients have been travelling or at home with kids lately. These types of routines are perfect for those situations. The goal is often to develop strength-endurance in major movement patterns (regress or progress as needed), while keeping the heartrate up. Plus, they remind of me of working out in the park at college. I’ll write a full feature on this later, but for now:

Workout Option A

10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 – Pushup, Squat, Inverted Row.

Perform 10 of each, then 9, then 8, then 7, etc. The exercises may vary, but I’ll typically perform a lower body exercise, a push, and a pull. I may add an extra exercise and opt for a core variation. It amounts to 72 reps, which is a nice number for bodyweight conditioning. It’s also a rather short workout when you’re conditioned. I’ve done this variation with up to 5 exercises in less than 20 minutes, often without equipment.

Workout Option B

5 Pushups, 8 Wallslides, 10 Squats, Jump Rope for 30s

Rest 60s, repeat for 5 circuits.

This is one that I gave to a mom with a sick kid the other day. I’ll use wallslides for bodyweight workouts when clients don’t have access to pullup bars or simply can’t do them. It can be difficult to have pulling motions in at-home workout without equipment.


Workout Option C

I really enjoyed Smitty’s AMD program, and will work in modified EDT Blocks / AMRAPs for conditioning methods frequently. Single leg exercises take up a lot of time, so I paired them with something more challenging for many general population clients. Waiter bows are an excellent high-rep, at-home (or beginner) hip hinge exercise.

6:00 EDT Block (AMRAP)

10 Reverse Lunges per side, 5 Chinups (10 Wallslides)

Rest 2-3 minutes

6:00 EDT Block (AMRAP)

10 Waiter Bows,10 Pushups


2. Goal Setting

A method that’s been proving effective with my clients has been setting behavior goals as opposed to outcome goals. The mention of ‘SMART’ goal setting is cliche and often leads to death by powerpoint at seminars, but still applicable. Rather than setting a goal like, ‘I will lose 6 pounds in 4 weeks by dieting and exercising’, I have my clients set 3 goals: 1 nutrition, 1 strength training, 1 lifestyle or commitment goal. This is proving effective for clients that are having difficulty adapting to an active lifestyle or making new changes.

Examples: I will strength train 3x/wk (12x a month). I will eat a healthy (meets all of the nutritional habit standards) dinner 5 out of 7 nights this week.

My behavior goal? I will practice yoga for 20-30 minutes, 3x a week. Much more likely to happen than, ‘I will stretch more’. If I miss a night, no sweat, as long as I get my 3 this week. When it comes time to reset goals, it is easier to modify a behavior goal for success than to create a new action plan for an outcome goal. Similarly, I find it’s much easier to make a behavior goal with clients that have difficulty setting objectively measured goals.

3. Progressing Warm Ups

Spurred by my recent article on Progressive Overload methods, and these excellent warm-up tips from Smitty at Dieselsc.com (here and here), I’ve been swapping out movements in my mobility warm ups. Just like with strength variations, it’s good to vary the drills in your warm ups. It could be something like a different thoracic mobility drill, an upper back drill, or a glute activation drill. I’m also guilty of simply forgetting classic drills, as I’m busy mastering a new one. I have tried and true movements that always do the trick for me, but I’ll make a point to revisit older drills and to try different variations.Sometimes I’ll abandon my usual warmup routine and work on a ‘flowing’ routine, trying to seamlessly move from one drill to the next based on what feels tight or what needs extra work. If you need some warm up ideas, Mike Robertson recently outlined a great post here.

Easy ‘open and anchor’ drill that I use with my clients and myself to open the hips and activate the glutes: Any hip flexor stretch for 30s-45s (anywhere from a static stretch to a bulgarian split squat), followed immediately with a band-resisted glute bridge for 10-12 reps and a lateral band walk, 10-12 per side.

4. Superbands as All-Around Tools

When I attended the Elite Training Workshop in Canton, CT, last year, I was admittedly less than excited to hear Dave Schmitz present on band training. I couldn’t have been more impressed, though. He may have been the dark horse of the day. Since then, I carry a 1/2″ superband with me to all of my workouts and client sessions. For warmups, it’s hard to beat a series of band disclocations, pull aparts, x-band walks, high pulls, presses, and face pulls. I’ll also use it for band straight leg raises. It flows together and lets me address several activation needs, while raising my temperature. I’ll use it between strength sets for some mild traction work or extra stretching. I’ve used it with some at-home clients for entire training programs, which adds some variety while being incredibly portable.