The Basics are Boring…


…said nobody, ever; or at least they shouldn’t be saying that if they have. The basics are the furthest from boring in my mind. Yes, they are frequently used, but that’s because they work! Major movements like the back squat, deadlift, bench press, strict press (military), clean, and snatch are the foundations of every program. These movements are the base from which most other movements are built. Dumbbells, kettlebells, unilateral, and many other variations come from these basic movements.

Old Vs. New

The basic movements mentioned above have been around forever. Moreover, you will come to find that most exercises have been created long ago. I once thought, back in high school, that I created a complex. Silly rabbit, no way. You can think of exercises like clothing styles/fads. They have been around before, gone out of style/popularity for whatever reason (culture change, economy, technology), and now they are back in style/popularity. They haven’t just been created, they were around, but were forgotten or never known by the current generation.

Methods and Outcomes

It is best to think about what your main objectives are and how to accomplish them in a timely manner. Nothing makes me more angry than watching some person doing an exercise they seemingly created that will have no impact in adaptation whatsoever. I’m talking about exercises like lunges, squats, or presses performed on a BOSU or physioball. What is the risk-to-reward here? Do you think this benefits you more in adaptation than the risk it poses in chance of injury? Probably not.

Use methods and exercises that are proven to create positive adaptation toward the goal you’re working towards. Most of the time the basic movements help to accomplish all objectives. “Oh, you want             legs? You should probably squat.” As you can see, one example here, but the squat is extremely effective in training the legs for many objectives; strength, power, muscular-endurance, “toning” (in my mind, just another word for a state in which a person has low body fat and decent muscularity).

The only difference in all of these traits is that the methods change, not the movement itself. You can change the implement being used, add variable resistance (bands, chains, etc.), and change some of the load/velocity/tension/volume characteristics. All of these, taken into account, will change the ultimate outcome that is realized by the individual. It is up to that individual to determine what they want and then determine how to set up their exercises accordingly.

Sorry about the rant. Do me a favor? Next time you’re pulling out a BOSU ball for your squats, think about what you’ll gain from that exercise and WHY you’re doing it in the first place. If you’re trying to gain maximal strength, you won’t get it that way, that’s for sure. Research unstable training and strength benefits; you’ll find there are none, really.

I’ll get off my soapbox now. What are your thoughts? Are you a believer in the power of the basic exercises (no pun intended)?

One thought on “The Basics are Boring…

  • In all honesty, the basics are often boring. But when you add 2.5kg to the bar they become… more interesting, so to speak.

    One of my clients said, “But Kyle, we DO have a lot of exercise variety. Squatting 120kg was totally different to squatting 60kg.”

    Having worked in a big gym, my experience is that those who wanted exercise variety did not seriously challenge themselves on any of the exercises they had.

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