What You Should REALLY Spend Your Time in the Gym Doing

18 Nov What You Should REALLY Spend Your Time in the Gym Doing

What You Should REALLy Spend Your Time in the Gym Doing Part I



leg-press-old-school-jack-lalanneThe frequency that people waste other’s time is mind-numbing. Bosses waste their employee’s time with busy work. Parents waste their kid’s time by arguing with each other. Your co-workers waste your time talking about absolutely nothing when you could be hustling and your friends waste your time whining about the same situations that they refuse to change when you could be enjoying truly creative and exciting moments.

Coaches and trainer waste their athletes and client’s time with useless exercise. Ah yes, which brings this to my point.

I’m here to end this dammit. I will end it or I will end you, it’s your choice… and I’m that passionate about this.


Because this is my profession, my calling, my life, and your B.S. pseudo dogma is holding the true few brilliant coaches out there from elevating my profession.

While I wouldn’t consider myself one of the brilliant, I’m a student of them and I have a problem with your holding them back and wasting everyone’s time.

The volume of useless exercises and drills people learn and do is ridiculous and there is too much of it to refute all at once.  So, I’m going to write about what should be focused on in the gym instead, and why.

This isn’t another “exercise you should be doing” article, but rather a “please intelligently look at what you’re really accomplishing in the gym and stop wasting your time” article.


1.     Full Range Squat Variations

Notice the last word here — variations. Not going to force the back squat down your throat, if you have serious reservations against it (my apologies to the lifters scratching their heads with their meaty fingers wondering why I redundantly called the squat a back squat).

You don’t have to perform full range but instead do goblet squats, front squats, full pistol squats, whatever. Just squat, and squat low.

But first, let’s define what I mean by full range squats. Go all the way down. Ok, moving on.

The squat pattern is fundamental and essential for…let’s see…everything. I could list off the benefits of increased stability and mobility. I could talk about how full range squats can improve ankle mobility, hip mobility, trunk stability. But, I’m not going to go into all that. I won’t talk about how it’s both an indicator of our current physical health and both a tool to restore proper movement patterns. Nope I won’t.

I’ll just tell you that you need to correct whatever restrictions you have in preventing you from being able to sit your ass almost to the ground, and then groove this motor pattern and use it to develop even greater levels of mobility and stability and perhaps even strength.


2.     Presses , Both Horizontal and Vertical

In powerlifting and weightlifting, lifters are taught to find their weak points and work on them until they are no longer weak points. Finding and training a weak angle of strength and developing it is synonymous with this.

For this reason, powerlifters will perform slight variations in range of motion with methods such as board presses or incline presses but it’s been my observation that a lot of very strong, physically balanced powerlifters also perform overhead lifts.

Whether you care about competitive lifting or not, you need to be balanced and strong in both horizontal and vertical pushing patterns.


3.     CAT Presses, Squats, and Pulls

For the uninitiated, we’re not talking about anything to do with those God-forsaken devil creatures…I hate cats…leave me be.. We’re talking about Compensatory Acceleration Training, also called a speed day.

Cliff notes – take a submaximal weight and move the bar as fast as you can.

If you mistakenly think, like so many others, that performing CAT presses squats or pulls is something just for powerlifters and weightlifters and don’t do them, you’re missing out on oh so many benefits, some of which can also lead to muscle gain. The force that can be generated in trying to move a load as fast as you can through the entire range of motion can recruit more muscle and develop more athleticism than a ton of other methods.


4.     Placing yourself Rigidly under Heavy Loads

In powerlifting, walkouts are often used to allow the lifter to get used to heavier weight. They load the bar up to some heavy ass weight, un-rack it and step back, stand there for a few seconds in a perfectly braced position, then rack it.

The goal is to increase GTO threshold basically meaning that they’re body can withstand a heavier load without shutting down muscular contraction to protect itself.

They’re also increasing trunk strength and stability whether they recognize it or not. Recent studies have indicated that abdominal muscles need 70% MVC (maximal voluntary contraction) for any strength gain to even be elicited.

This means that unless you put yourself under load (i.e. weight), or put yourself in a position where your leverage is impaired to perform the movement/exercise, you’re “core exercises” are  not doing much and you undoubtedly look really stupid.

While the 70% MVC can be argued and maybe only applicable for the trained athlete/lifter, there needs to come a point where you need to learn how to create rigidity through your trunk and mid-section and also learn to transfer forces effectively from the ground, through your trunk, to the limbs performing the muscular action.

This can be done through the above mentioned walkouts but also through other methods such as the Turkish Get-Up. The key is to actually use a significant load. Not only will you learn to create rigidity and to brace and support important things like, I don’t know, your spine; but they can also be used to learn how to create mobility where it is needed and stability in joints and sections that may have lost it.

But don’t believe me, this is my good friend Dr. Don Reagan who is one of the smartest physical therapists I have ever met doing a human Turkish Get-Up.



Which brings me to my next point…


5.     Reaching Out and Listening To Someone more Qualified Than Me about Physical Health and Movement Standards

Pompous strength coach I may be, but an imbecile, who refuses to see gaps in his knowledge, I hope I am not and will never be.

When I have a question on how to restore a movement standard, pin-point a limitation or re-hab an injury in myself or my athletes, I seek out more qualified pros like my buddy Don, who I know won’t waste my time with pointless crap that won’t actually help. He’ll tell me the bare truth that I can go to work on.

Put down the flexband and stop doing nine different shoulder rotation variations and seek out the right people who will show you the one drill that will actually make the difference.


Till Next Time

If my explanation for each seems short, that’s because it was intended to be short. Each point on this list could be made into its own article and if we were to go over it all in painstaking detail, this would become a book and not a post. You have not the attention span nor have I the free time for such things.


I’ll be back with Part 2 and the remaining list but let me know if you think something else belongs in this first list in the comments.



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



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