What You Should REALLY Spend your Time in the Gym Doing Part 2

26 Nov What You Should REALLY Spend your Time in the Gym Doing Part 2

Heavy DeadliftIn Part 1 , we talked about how much time is wasted in the gym and what practices are necessary and what’s extra. Today, the list of what you should be doing continues.

6. Deadlifts

Should have probably mentioned these in the first part to emphasize its importance. They’re to be done correctly and often. There will not be any further discussion about this because there’s no need. Enough has been said.


7. Do Hip Dominant Movements, like Hip Thrusters, Often and With a Significant Load

Like deadlifts, there’s definitely enough written about how good hip thrusters are for you. Pretty sure they can cure disease or something. Truth is, they’re the best exercise you can do to activate your glutes because, if done correctly, they allow for both hip extension and posterior tilt of pelvis —both actions the gluteus maximum is directly responsible for.

While I believe we need to squat as well, we also need to prioritize hip dominant movements at times in our training and the hip thrust is one of the best. The limited knee flexion and extension allows it to emphasize movement about the hips.

Don’t buy what I’m throwing at you hip thrusters? Go have a chat with Bret Contreras and try to argue with him about it. I bet you’ll lose.


8. Single Leg Exercises

They should be done in some capacity at some point in your training if only to create or maintain balance, symmetry, and stability. Not to say there isn’t a whole long list of reasons to do them besides that but we’re keeping this short. Believe and follow me with blind faith.


9. Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups

There is a definite difference in doing closed chain vs. open chain movements. If you don’t know, closed chain means that your trunk moves around your limbs (which stay fixed) and open chain means your limbs move about your trunk. So, a leg press is an open chain exercise while a squat is a close chain movement.

Most people understand the benefits of doing a squat over a leg press in that it develops trunk stability, balance, and synchronization of movement. But, most also forget about their upper-body, specifically their posterior musculature. They’ll do every open chain row variation in the book but never do a pull-up (a closed chained movement in case you haven’t figured it out yet).

More than often, people perform hundreds of rotator cuff exercises and drills with a pink dumbbell or the a resistance band that looks like I could floss my teeth but don’t get that the rotator cuff can be developed and strengthened when doing perfect pull-ups. The scapular stabilization needed to pull yourself up there is going to provide a stimulus and build strength in your posterior musculature much greater than a lot of pre-hab drills that don’t provide enough mechanical stress to make any changes.

Can be done, literally, anywhere.

Can be done, literally anywhere… Me at a park after a trail run.


Want healthy shoulders? Do pull-ups, and lots of them. Oh and don’t stop at vertical pulls, do horizontal pull-ups as well to build both angles of strength and stability.


10. Explosive Movements

This means performing movements that are inherently explosive in nature and not just performing lifts utilizing compensatory acceleration training (speed work, talked about in Part 1). While lifts such as cleans and snatches can be some of the best tools in this category, it’s not limited to them. This also includes med. ball throws, jumps, prowler explosions, etc.

Even for those mainly concerned with looks, developing power through increasing the rate at which muscle groups can be utilized and combined for a strong contraction is, in my mind, essential.

Many coaches and trainers have improved their clients’ physiques through adding such methods, as well. That aside, we’re looking to become physically dominant and this involves athleticism and power, which is why we need to train with explosive movements.


11. No-Nonsense Mobility and Breathing Mechanics

I could elaborate a ton on this but I’m going to make it simple — if you’re not sweating, hurting, or pushing yourself up to and slightly beyond a limit, you’re wasting time. And yes I said hurting.

I’ll give you an example of what kind of work I’m referring to:

Compression wrapping hurts like hell but offers extra stability to work on range of motion in a safer way and the momentary blood reduction followed by the rapid return of blood brings nutrients back to the limited area.

And yes, there’s a difference between good hurting and bad hurting and the mobility work I’m talking about is not just limited to compression wrapping but also, SMR, dynamic movements etc. The point is, that people waste so much time doing what doesn’t needed to be done. Find whatever it is you need to do to restore movement and ROM and work at it hard, forgetting everything else just because it looks cool or some guy in a video did it once.

As far as breathing mechanics go, it can be debated as to how much of this should actually be done before a workout but training yourself to use your breathing to set your rib-cage, spine, and pelvis and powerfully contracting the entire trunk, is pretty much the most important thing if you want to still be lifting in 5 years.


12. Warming Up With the Essential, Not with a Production

This is ALL you need to know about warming up for a workout:

  1. Static stretching can be performed before a workout as long as the stretch is only held for 10-20 seconds and is followed by dynamic stretching/warm-up to counteract negative effects on explosive movement.
  2. Increasing temperature tissue is what is important but your warm-up shouldn’t last for 5 hours and fatigue you… at all.
  3. Moving the body through active ranges of motion prior to a workout and doing explosive movements before a workout can increase performance but the volume needs to be limited.

Doing an hour long warm-up aimed to activate every muscle individually is not proven to do anything and in some cases can just make things worse.

This is no my opinion, this is evidence-based. Take a look at my notes on this on Bret Contreras’ site before we get into it: http://bretcontreras.com/what-does-sports-science-research-have-to-say-about-warming-up/



I’m sure I forgot something on here that I’ll remember a couple of days later, so if you think of something you think should have been included let me know in the comments and we’ll have an argument as to whether it really belongs on this list or not.



Lederman, E., Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2010) 14, 84e98



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