People that love working out become personal trainers so they can be around training even more. People that hate working out hire the trainers to help them get in shape. This creates a problem because the trainers want their clients to do all the cool stuff they know and love but they forget that their clients won’t like most of it and only some of it actually helps.
I have a confession. I hate working out too.
Even though I’ve been coaching others for close to a decade, the last thing I want to do is go lift weights. I have other physical pursuits that I do enjoy, but working out isn’t one of them.
For a few years, I convinced myself that I liked it, but I mostly trained to reach goals outside the gym not because I enjoyed anything I was doing. Seeing the results of the work I was doing convinced me of training’s value and I it was obvious to me that others could benefit as well so I started coaching, but it was never because I loved picking up heavy stuff.
Because I hated training as much as my clients, I approach it in a completely different way. I treat it like eating vegetables. You don’t have to like but you need to do it. I also think you should do as little as possible to get the results you want.
Most trainers fill the workout with all this “stuff” that they think is really cool and interesting, but it really doesn’t do much for your fitness. Let’s be honest, moving your foot 2″ to the left and doing the exercise again to get different activation isn’t going to change anything in your life.
I like to do the absolute minimum to stay and shape and reach my health and fitness goals. The workouts below are that minimum. They are simple, short, and effective. You don’t have to like them. You just need to do them.
How to Build a Workout
There are 5 movements that need to be in every workout: pushing, pulling, squatting, hinging (deadlifting), and coring (core work). In each workout, you need to do one exercise from each category. Every exercise you’re going to do 3 times for 8–12 reps.
You can do them as a circuit if you’d like or do one exercise at a time. The details really don’t matter. Again, all the discussion of supersets, rest intervals, mid-workout-nutrition, and all the other nonsense is just that: nonsense. It will only matter to people that love training. For those that don’t like working out, the details won’t matter one bit.
I’ll break down the movements a little further to give you a better idea of what to do.
Pushing exercises are any exercise that forces you to push something away from you. Push ups, bench press, dumbbell press, barbell press, etc. Think chest and shoulders if you’re familiar with body parts.
Pulling exercises are the opposite of pushing. Pull ups, chin ups, dumbbell or barbell rows, TRX rows, etc. These cover back and biceps.
Squatting encompasses all the different squat variations. One leg, two leg, with weight, without weight, barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, etc. There are thousands of squatting exercises. Just pick one and call it good. These exercises will target the quads and butt muscles.
Hinging is the people are most unfamiliar with. Hinging is deadlifting. There are fewer variations here, but they are all valuable. Normal deadlifts, single leg dead lifts, and kettlebell swings all fall into this category. Hinge movements strengthen everything but especially the lower back, hamstrings, and butt muscles.
People often think deadlifting is dangerous. It’s not if done correctly and you should always try to do every exercise correctly. Practice your form, have someone that knows how to deadlift check your position, and keep the weights reasonable. Deadlifting done well is not dangerous at all and is one of the best things you can do for your body.
Core work covers anything that works your abs. Planks, side planks, sit up, leg lifts, etc.
A note on picking the weights you should use. I’m very flexible here. I’ve had better success using less weight than most people recommend, but you might be different. I usually aim for 50%–70% of my max and do my 3 sets of 8–12 there. The guys that love training will say this is too little, but I can assure it’s not. You’ll still get stronger, get the results you want, and you won’t have to suffer as much while you do it.
You can warm up however you want. I, personally, use the workout above as my warm up. I keep the weights light enough that I can do it safely while I’m “cold” and by the end, I’m ready to do other things I do enjoy.
The entire workout should take no more than 20 minutes. I recommend doing it 3 times per week or more as long as you keep the weights low.
You don’t need to train for an hour per day to get results. The workout above is more than enough. You hit all the major areas of the body, build flexibility by doing full range of motion, and are focused on building muscle and strength which will be the most effective form of exercise for whatever your goal is.
If you hate coming up with workouts as much as you hate doing them, we’d probably get along great. I don’t like writing workouts either. To avoid it, I created a program that automates it for me.
You enter your fitness level, your desired schedule, and the equipment you have access to and my website will print you custom workouts that change every week using the model above. It’s simple, easy to use, and takes all the thought and worry out of this process.
It works if you have a full gym or no equipment at all. If you go on vacation and need workouts for your trip, you can go in and change the settings and it’ll print out new workouts that fit whatever situation you’re in. It’s really pretty handy.
There’s a free 2-week trial, so you can try it and see if it’ll save you some time and frustration. You don’t need to enter your credit card or anything. After the two weeks, there’s a small fee that covers my cost of development and maintenance, but I built it to save you time and make working out a little more tolerable, not to get rich.
Here’s the link to the website.
Play with it for 2 weeks and see if you like it. Zero pressure to use it after that.
That’s really all there is to it. Five movements, 3 sets, 8–12 reps, 50%-70% effort. Do that 3–6 days per week and you’ll get everything you need and nothing you don’t.
You don’t need to like working out to benefit from it. Rather than beating yourself up about not enjoying it, treat it like doing the laundry or eating vegetables. It’s just another chore that needs to get done, so do it as quickly and efficiently as possible.