Simple Program Design

This time of the year everyone and their uncle is making their way back into gyms across the country in order to stick to their New Year’s resolutions and get into better shape, whatever that means. (Don’t worry regular gym goers, they’ll be gone in a couple more weeks.) Because of this, more and more people are looking for solid information on what exactly they should be doing during these gym sessions to be as productive as possible. Thankfully, I am here to help you out and save your day.


When it comes to programming there are many different programs out there, some great, some not so great, and some lying somewhere in the middle. The more I learn the more I keep coming back to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid) when it comes to programing, especially when it comes to the typical gym goer that is looking to move better, feel better, and look better and not worried about athletic performance. When looking at many different programs out there, it is clear that people cthink that things need to be complicated to be effective while in reality simple program can be as effective is any program as well as difficult. At the end of the day, the basics aren’t broken.

With that said, in order for a program to be effective people need to perform something explosive to maintain power, push something, pull something, perform a knee dominant movement, a hip dominant movement, some type of core exercise and then finish off with some conditioning of some sort. They need to train like an athlete with compound movements with a focus on movements, not muscles. A few examples of all of these different movements would look something like this;

Jump Squat, Kettlebell Swings, Dumbbell Snatch

Bench Press, Dumbbell Bench, Incline Press, Dumbbell Incline Press, Push Up’s, Overhead Dumbbell Press

Chin Up, Neutral Grip Chin Up, TRX Row, Dumbbell Row, Seated Row

Knee Dominant
Goblet Squat, Single Leg Squat, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat, Slideboard Lunge, Step Up’s

Hip Dominant
Trap Bar Deadlift, RDL, Single Leg RDL, Glut-Ham Raise, Slideboard Leg Curl, Hip Lift

Front Plank, Side Plank, Straight Leg Sit Up, Med Ball Slams, Rollouts, Anti-Rotation Press

Bike Sprints, Sled Pushes, Loaded Carries, Ropes

I would also recommend not going overboard and trying to do too much – chances are you’re not 18 anymore and need to train accordingly. The first thing you should do is work of your tissue quality. Grab a form roller and roll out areas that are tight and sore than stretch a little bit to help loosen yourself up after a day of sitting at a desk or in your car.

foam rolling

After that, a simple program would do the trick. Following is an easy to follow three day program would work wonders for someone in this situation of trying to move better, feel better and look better. The workout could look something like this;

Day One
A1) Kettelbell Swing – 3×12
A2) Front Plank – 3×20-30 seconds

B1) Goblet Squat – 3×8
B2) Push Up – 3×8

C1) Chin Up – 3×5
C2) Single Leg RDL – 3×8
C3) Rollout

Conditioning – 10 Yard Sled March 8-10x

Day Two
A1) Jump Squat – 3×8
A2) Side Plank – 3×20-30 seconds

B1) Trap Bar Deadlift – 3×5
B2) TRX Row – 3×8

C1) Dumbbell Incline Press – 3×8
C2) Slideboard Lunge – 3×8
C3) Med Ball Slams – 3×10

Conditioning – Bike Sprints (15 seconds on, 45 seconds off) – 8-10x

Day Three
A1) Dumbbell Snatch – 3×5
A2) Anti-Rotation Press – 3×8

B1) Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat – 3×6
B2) Dumbbell Bench Press – 3×8

C1) Dumbbell Row – 3×8
C2) Slideboard Leg Curl – 3×8
C3) Straight Leg Sit Up – 3×10

Conditioning – Ropes (15 seconds on, 45 seconds off) 8-10x

There it is, a simple yet effective program to help you reach your New Year’s resolution and overall fitness goals in 2013. I highly recommend you not overthink things and simply pick a movement from each of these categories and get after it. If there are movements/exercises that you don’t particularly care for, don’t do them and pick something else in the same category and move on, its that simple. Beyond being simple and effective, this will allow you to focus on everything you need to focus on from a movement standpoint, but also allows you a degree of freedom to pick and choose which exercises you enjoy which will lead to you looking forward to going to the gym and getting in a good workout.

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