Archive for January 1, 2010

Back to the Past?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2010 by mboyle1959

This is another recycled piece and was actually the first of a three part series I wrote for

I had the “opportunity” the other day to get a workout in at a commercial gym. To say that it was an interesting experience would be an understatement.

It was mid day in Southern California and the gym had approximately 30 people working out at the time. Just enough people to observe the current state of fitness training. Chain store gyms these days are still designed in what I referred to as Noah’s Ark style in my second book, Designing Strength Training Programs and Facilities ( you can download it as an ebook at ). A Noah’s Ark gym has at least two of every piece of equipment. The gym owner seems to have just picked up a few brochures from the major manufacturers and said give me two of everything. Usually, there is actually an overabundance of flat bench presses, treadmills and elliptical trainers.

As I watched the “workouts” going on, I could only think of a Charles Staley article at called 10 Important Lessons that described what I call the 180 principle. ( PS- be careful where you open t-nation articles. The info is good but, some content and photos are in extremely poor taste) In the article Staley advocates a simple way to design a program. Look at what everyone else is doing and then do the opposite. Staley stated “the majority is always wrong, do the opposite. Staley might have provided the best simple advice I have ever heard.

Based on Staley’s advice:

Everyone using single joint machines? Check. OK, single joint machines are obviously out. I titled this back to the past because I actually saw a leg extension machine and then lo and behold, I saw someone use it. I immediately looked outside to see if there were any T-Top Camaros parked outside.

Was anyone squatting? Nope. OK, squats are definitely in.

Bench pressing? Oh yea, lots of bench pressing. Mostly guys. Mostly guys with odd, mis-shapen physiques. H’mm, what would the opposite of bench pressing be? Pulling something to your chest? Based on Staley’s 180 idea it looks like rows could be the most important exercise in the gym because I didn’t see one. For the bench press crowd, you can still bench. Just keep it 3 sets and do at least three sets of some type of row. The good part is that the Noah’s Ark gyms have every row machine known to man. Lucky for you they are never used. They have Hammer Low Rows, Hammer High Rows, Seated Row machines etc. etc. My favorite is a row machine that has a chest pad. This keeps you from turning the row into a hip extension exercise.

This is getting interesting and, I think we could do this all day. We always finish with the bottom line. Look at everyone in your gym. Make a list of what they do. Title that list “Things To Not Do”.