Reverse-banded squats in a top-of-the-line Elite FTS power cage. Working on hip drive and accelerating the bar, I take it?
There’s only one problem: you only have 25lbs on each side of the bar.
And you felt the need to occupy a squat rack, and fancy it the fuck up with colorful toys, bands, accessories. And oh yeah, did I fail to mention that you weight about 98lbs soaking wet, with legs slightly more developed than toothpicks?
But now another day, and here you stand on the outside of the power rack now, barbell set up at shoulder height—the casual viewer might think you are preparing to squat. With a whopping 15lbs on either side of the bar. But no, you saunter under that heavy load, placing it across your clavicles, and proceed to do standing overhead press—all while taking up an entire power rack—with your awesome 75lbs. Because heaven forbid you place the damn barbell on the floor and clean it up to shoulder height before doing your set. No, doing something that strenuous might actually build muscle, thus robbing you of your precious identity of gym waif in hipster clothing.
Or again, all too common in my hardcore gym—you can’t squat your body-weight for a handful of reps, but you already have some really awesome top-of-the-line squat shoes. Or Vibrams. Or knee sleeves. Or some other obnoxious bullshit that is supposed to allow you “unprecedented gainz” overnight.
Perhaps you aren’t the hipster type, and perhaps your preference is old-school 18-year-old-male-douchebag-in-the-gym. What do you do then? Why, gather a pack of five more gym douchebags, and crowd around the cable machine whilst banging out pointless set after pointless set of cable crossovers. ‘Cause that will build some massive pecs, right?
When all else fails with perverting normal lifting, you can also pervert the entire process of exercise—grab a pair of heavy ropes that take up 90% of the gym floor, and flail against them uselessly as if you have just invented a new way of sculpting the body from the ground up. No worries, every single person in the gym will appreciate having to walk forty feet around your setup, while you twist and spasm in broad daylight, your stomach hanging out the bottom of your shirt as you look like a monkey fucking a football in public. What the heck was Arnold thinking when he came up with such overly-simplified techniques as the barbell bench press, the barbell squat, and the barbell row? Damn simpleton!
There’s an old acronym, K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. We know what works for getting in shape. It doesn’t require banding the shit out of every piece of equipment in the gym, or flailing against ropes like an epileptic, or overly-fancy clothing so you can work on something as simple as a squat. K.I.S.S. in this context means picking your basic compound exercises, getting good at the technique, and then focusing on progressive overload over time.
I know, a wild concept indeed—lifting weights should be about slowly learning how to lift heavier weights. Shhhh, I probably shouldn’t let the cat out of the bag on that one, eh? It’ll rob too many trainers of the “guru” status. Or should I say Witch Doctor status?
Exercise isn’t hard, people. Getting in shape isn’t hard. It’s hard in the sense of being a lot of work, and being tedious. But the methods are incredibly simple. Stop being sold a bridge that goes nowhere. Get rid of the fancy, and get back to basics. K.I.S.S.—or spend the rest of your life humping a rope. Your call.
-David A. Johnston
David Johnston is the founder and lead trainer of TEAM Warrior Within. You can also listen to him weekely on the GEARD Up podcast. ( GEARDUp.com ) David works with clients ranging from the everyday person just trying to lose weight and get healthy, local and national bodybuilding and physique competitors, to IFBB professional athletes.
David lives and breathes all things related to physique transformation, and has devoted nearly half of his life to passionately studying and educating himself to be the absolute best at what he does. His intensity in the gym is matched only by the passion he gives to his clients.