Simple Workout Routines

by Lee

Does your training pass the KISS test? These simple workout routines show you how.

KISS with Confidence

KISS is much more than a catchy sounding acronym. The "Keep it simple, stupid" principle can also become an invaluable training tool when you are looking to avoid being overwhelmed or intimidated by unnecessary complexity.

Want an example of how this principle can help you? KISS can help put into practice strength training routines that are effective, uncomplicated - and most importantly - simple.

Below is a KISS routine you might want to try:

    Workout 1:  Squat
    Workout 2:  Bench Press
    Workout 3:  Bent-Over Barbell Row

Or how about one of our favorites? Then try this:

    Workout 1: Deadlift
    Workout 2: Dip

KISS Training Targets

Is muscle growth your goal? Then keep your reps between 5-8 and your rest periods short (30-45 seconds or so). This is important specifically for muscle gains, because you really don’t want to rest enough for your ATP to be fully replenished in between sets.  

Is strength your target? Then your reps can be kept between 3-5 and your rest periods long (2-3 minutes). As discussed in a previous post, low reps with heavy weights and lots of rest in between sets is best for strength gains.

And what about sets? Pucker up and shoot for 2-5.

KISS Performance and Progression

Only train to technical failure - this means each repetition is performed with good form and you avoid ugly grinding reps at all costs. Why is this important? To borrow an old saying from bodybuilder Lee Haney, you should "exercise to stimulate, not annihilate your muscles"; so a good rule of thumb is to always keep a rep in the tank and practice perfect form.

And what about progression?

Once again we follow the KISS principle and keep things really simple. How does this sound? Add iron to your bar when your first heavy set begins to feel easy.

How much iron? Two to five pounds is fine. If you goof and miscalculate, then your reps - and exercise form - will soon let you know.

This is TOO Simple to Work, Isn't It?

No. Not at all. Oftentimes, the simplest way is the most efficient way...

Or, to quote Renaissance artist Leonardo DaVinci, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication".

So don't be afraid of doing less. Since super-abbreviated training and simple workout routines has helped everyone from novice beginners to some of the strongest men in history, you will find yourself in excellent company!

Photo by Beverley & Pack

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More than one set?
by: Steve

Here you are suggesting 2-5 sets of each exercise when in your previous articles you state that only one set is sufficient to stimulate growth. What is your rationale for multiple sets?

How Many Sets and Reps?
by: Lee

How many sets and reps is an important question...and you are right - one set can be sufficient and provide enough training intensity to stimulate growth. However, volume is also a training variable worthy of consideration, hence multiple sets.

For example, research shows that there is a "repetition sweet spot" many of the tried and trusted training protocols share. Strength coach Bill Starr used this number when he popularized the "5x5" training combo, just as others have used it many times since (the 3x8 and 8x3 immediately spring to mind).

When you do the math, you find most of the successful routines seem to share the same number of repetitions: 24 or 25 reps per exercise. Are these numbers a coincidence? Perhaps, but I don't believe so. It appears that such a rep scheme hits an optimal range of volume and intensity; this means, you use weights heavy enough to target strength, lift them enough times to add size, and avoid doing so much work that recovery becomes an issue.

Abbreviated training routines where you use just one exercise per workout, allows you the luxury of more volume and the opportunity to hit this "repetition sweet spot". Keeping these routines brief also means you avoid the dangers of burn-out, injury, along with the specter of overtraining.

So to answer your question? For sure, one high-intensity set can be sufficient to stimulate growth. But multiple sets serve a valuable purpose too.

Hope I could help, Steve. Thanks, and good luck with your training!

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