Simplify Your Program, Amplify Your Results

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

Bill Starr was the first strength coach to work at both the collegiate and professional level.

He was the strength coach for the Baltimore Colts when they won Super Bowl V.

No matter what people may tell you about slide boards, balance training, Bosu balls, tempo training, occlusion training and simultaneously working one arm with the opposite leg, the fact of the matter is that not much has changed in the last forty years when it comes to effective strength training.

In general, we can’t get guys any bigger or stronger today than we could back then.

As Bill said himself, “the more simple a program, the more it will achieve the desired results, which is greater functional strength.”

An effective strength training program doesn’t need more than 3-5 total exercises per workout. If you write a program with more exercises than that it’s usually for entertainment value, not for results.

People should concentrate on quality not quantity and strive to do fewer things better.

If you are an athlete that usually means you will only be training for three to six months out of the year. The rest of your time will be spent playing or practicing. For three to four of those months you should be squatting.

I love deadlifts, but the reality is that most athletes would be better served doing some sort of Olympic pull. A snatch or clean variation, and preferably both, should be part of the program. There’s less risk and more benefit.

If you are also running and jumping, which every athlete should be doing, there is very little need for anything else in the weight room aside for mobility work such as hurdle step overs, duck unders, some joint prep work and some isometric bridging exercises.

All of this should be part of the warm up and does not constitute the strength portion of the program.

If an athlete is very inflexible it would probably benefit him to do some split squats or Cossack squats and hold the stretch position at the bottom for a few seconds. Romanian dead lifts or single leg RDL’s could help as well.

Loaded stretching that you turn into an exercise seems to be more effective than regular stretching; which bores most athletes to tears. Some extra tight guys will need both.

For the upper body athletes need to press. Bench presses, inclines and military presses are at the top of the list; especially for football players who will most likely get tested on one or two of these.  Weighted pushup variations or dumbbells are great assistance movements to complement the big barbell lifts.

Chin ups and rows should also be included to balance out the upper body training and keep the shoulder region healthy. A wide variety of chins should be included to help avoid any possible tendon issues that can arise from using the same grip too often.

If you pick one of each of these exercises and use the proper set and rep scheme you have as effective a strength program as you can find. If, in one workout you were to snatch, squat, press and chin what more would you possibly need? That’s a program that will get you strong.

When you start adding in rear delts, concentration curls, Cuban presses, right leg/ left hand step up and military press, fancy tempo schemes and all that nonsense you take away from the effectiveness of the program; not add to it.

Every single muscle group does not need individual attention and isolation.

When you do snatches and overhead presses you eliminate the need for direct external rotation, shrugs, rear delt and rhomboid work. That’s bang for your buck right there.

Athletes play their sport. That is how they get conditioned optimally. They run, jump, cut and do agility drills.

You need to build strength in the weight room and play or practice your sport frequently so that the strength transfers over. Most “sport specific exercises” and all that clown nonsense do very little.

The point of all this is that if you want to get better results from your training you need to simplify.

Complicated routines lead to lackluster results. L

Like Bruce Lee said, “simplicity is the key to brilliance.” It also helps you get bigger and stronger a whole lot faster.

Simplify your program to amplify your results.