A detailed, complicated, and complex regimen will produce better results than a simple, basic, bare-bones approach . . . or so some would have you believe.
I’ve been a personal trainer for over 10 years now, and in that period of time my approach to health and fitness, and just helping people look and feel great naked has consistently simplified. And the results speak for themselves.
Simple just works. And it works exceptionally well.
As you’re about to see, achieving your performance, health, and aesthetic goals really is this simple. Say “good-bye” to stressful and complicated routines that control your life and “hello!” to simple, practical, and flexible guidelines you can follow long-term.
You’ve likely seen the 30 Rules to Lift Like a Girl before, but this article will condense everything down to the 6 most essential rules that will allow you to reach your goals.
Sane and Simple Rule #1 — Lift Heavy Things
“Heavy things” isn’t just limited to free weights; it can also be applied to bodyweight training as well.
The important thing is that you challenge yourself with an appropriate load. I primarily use a 6-12 rep range but heavier sets of 1-5 reps and higher rep sets of 15-20 can also work well for certain muscle groups and exercises. But, the majority of the work should be performed in the 6-12 rep range with a challenging load.
So whether you’re a member at a fully loaded gym or you prefer to work out at home with just your bodyweight, you’ve got no excuses to not get the results you want and deserve. You’ve just got to make the most of what you have available and do the work.
If you use the following exercises or their variations with a challenging weight, you’ll do incredibly well.
- Push-ups, parallel bar dips, dumbbell, and barbell bench presses
- Standing dumbbell and barbell presses and handstand push-ups
- Chin-ups, inverted rows, and 1 arm dumbbell rows
- Squats (goblet, back squat, front squat)
- Deadlifts (conventional, rack pull, trap bar, sumo)
- Reverse lunges and rear foot elevated split squats
You can also sprinkle in some accessory exercises like back extensions, hip thrusts, and direct abdominal work, but those exercises will provide the majority of the results.
If your routines consist of those exercises you’ll do incredibly well.
That is, as long as you apply Rule #2…
Sane and Simple Rule #2 — Lift Heavier Things Over Time
Lifting heavy things is great and will definitely help you build the physique you want.
BUT, you must lift heavier things over time. Doing the same exercises with the same weight for the same number of sets and reps will not improve your performance or physical appearance.
Getting stronger and improving your performance is mandatory.
To do this with free weights is simple – just add more weight to the bar or perform more reps with the same weight.
With bodyweight workouts it could mean progressing to more challenging variations. For example, progressing from traditional push-ups to close grip or feet elevated push-ups and from rear foot elevated split squats to skater squats.
Gradual, consistent improvement over the long-term is imperative, and this is why I love performance oriented goals.
For example, if you set the goal of squatting your bodyweight for 10 reps, performing several bodyweight chin-ups and parallel bar dips, and deadlifting 1.5 – 2 times your bodyweight, you’ll definitely reap some incredible aesthetic results on your journey to reaching those goals, and once you do achieve them, you’ll see the difference physically and most likely feel a huge increase in self-confidence as well.
Lifting heavy things is good.
Slowly, steadily, and consistently lifting heavier things is even better.
Sane and Simple Rule #3 — Eat Plenty of Real, Tasty Food
Despite what fad diets portray, nutrition doesn’t need to be complicated.
Please take note of the “Plenty” part of Rule #3.
Practically every popular diet and magazine article is all about finding ways to consumer fewer calories. There are all sorts of “tricks and tips” for not eating as much food. It seems like a never ending race to see how little food you can truly consume without collapsing.
But if you want to achieve your performance and even look-good-naked goals, you’ve got to make sure you’re eating enough.
Following a crazy restrictive diet usually leads to a few things, and none of them are good: stress, hunger, and worse yet, binge eating.
I’ve worked with dozens of clients who were trying to live off of 1200 calories for months on end, and it was no wonder they had zero energy and couldn’t lose fat despite a super low calorie intake for a long period of time. Once they started eating more food (real, whole food) they had much more energy, and that meant they actually enjoyed their workouts and were able to make steady, consistent progress on a weekly basis.
And not only that, but they experienced that sometimes eating more and working out less actually helped them lose fat.
Ladies, we’re not birds, so don’t eat like one.
It’s time to embrace the fact that it’s acceptable to eat and enjoy plenty of real, delicious food and to feel satiated.
Sane and Simple Rule #4 — Occasionally Eat Your Favorite Not-So-Healthy-Foods, Guilt Free
Again, don’t miss the “Guilt Free” portion of Rule #4.
Yes, I think it’s important to indulge in your favorite “treats” or not-so-healthy foods on occasion. For me that means enjoying some ice cream (mint chocolate chip is my go-to flavor) or drinking a favorite micro beer (nitro stouts are my all time favorite).
In the past I tried to completely avoid things like ice cream, beer, or other home made goodies that were “unhealthy”, but all that did was make me want those foods even more. It also led to some horrible binge eating episodes where I’d over eat foods I didn’t even enjoy.
So by allowing myself to enjoy, guilt free, some of my favorite foods on occasion, I don’t obsess about them and I’m not tempted to binge. And keep in mind the majority of the time I’m eating real, whole delicious foods, so a couple beers per week or the occasional bowl of ice cream is not going to have any negative impact on my results. I call this “Sane and Simple Nutrition“, and it’s very effective.
So the next time you’re craving your favorite treat, eat it. Enjoy it absolutely guilt free and unapologetically.
Sane and Simple Rule #5 — Get Enough Sleep
I’ll bet your eyes glazed over as you read this one; no doubt you’ve seen this suggestion hundreds of times. And for very good reason.
Sleep is very important for your recovery from working out and overall health.
Do not neglect this.
It’s a super basic principle but some people refuse to heed its advice until they’re constantly run down and getting sick frequently. Do yourself a favor and strive to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. If you have to go to bed a bit earlier, just do it. If you can find a way to trim down your morning routine so you can sleep in a bit later, then do it.
This principle is so basic and simple (and important!) that you have no reason not to apply it most of the time.
Again, I’ve had numerous clients make sleep a priority and they were finally able to bust a fat loss plateau and achieve their other performance goals as well.
Sane and Simple Rule #6 — Repeat Steps 1-5, Consistently
Consistency over the long-term is where the magic happens.
Practically anyone can follow a complicated regimen for a few weeks, but most people quickly abandon them soon after starting.
But when you can be consistent with your efforts for months, and eventually years, then you’ll achieve and maintain the results. Better yet, you’ll ingrain some long-term, sustainable habits. That means you’ll never have to search for the “latest and greatest diet” or some magic fix because you’ll already know what to do.
I’ve had dozens of clients focus solely on implementing the 6 Sane and Simple Rules listed above and many report after a few weeks that something “magical” seemed to happen.
There’s no magic involved.
When you focus on just a few basics and apply them consistently, you will get results. And perhaps more importantly, you’re significantly less stressed than if you followed something complicated.
In fact, I’m willing to bet the reduced stress people experience when taking a bare-bones-basic approach, like the one above, is a huge contributor to the positive results they achieve.
Stop stressing. Stop following a complicated regimen that dominates your life. Take the simple approach and experience just how powerful it is.
So if you feel overwhelmed from your current regimen or you’re looking for a new plan of attack, return to the Sane and Simple Rules above. What do you have to lose?
Don’t just take my word for it. Embrace simplicity and experience the results for yourself.