I Think I’ll Do Upper Body Today (Female subtitle- I think I’ll just run today)


Interesting fact. Most people go to the gym and immediately do the exercises they like. If you’re a man, that means bench press and curls. If you’re a woman it means hopping on the treadmill for a long slow walk or a long slow run. I think this might be the reason most people look so bad. They are always going to work on the stuff they can’t see or don’t like to do tomorrow but, tomorrow never comes.

As a college strength and conditioning coach I encountered the same problem early in my career. As a result I came to the early realization that Monday would always be lower body day. This was done for one simple reason. Every day I was forced to do battle with human nature.  Athletes are no different than the average gym-goer. They want to do what they like. I was like the parent who needed to say, “no TV until your homework is done”. When we first began developing training programs for athletes, our athletes were just like the folks described above. Athletes who were not on a program would wander into the weightroom, do a couple of sets of bench presses and then wander over to the curl bar for a few sets. After this, they would simply leave. My solution to this problem was simple. The first day of every week was always a lower body day. This meant that athletes would return the next day to do the stuff they really wanted to do. A simple but effective solution.

The solution for a fitness person is even simpler. Perform a full body every workout every time you go to the gym. Do your lower body and pulling exercises ( like chin-ups) first. Save the bench press and curls for last.  If you just did a squat or squat variation, a pull-up variation and then benched and curled the result will be a vast improvement in your physique. The average persons work ethic in the gym is the equivalent to going to a restaurant, ordering dessert, getting too full from dessert and skipping the meal. Lots of empty calories and none of the stuff you need.

The truth is that training is much like nutrition. Ever notice that everything that is good for you doesn’t taste very good.  In addition, all the stuff that tastes great is fattening. Exercise is the same way. Most of the exercises that are best for you are the ones that are least popular and seem to hurt the most. Have you ever noticed the popularity of exercises where you sit or lie down. The whole machine concept is based on appealing to the lowest common denominator of human nature. You can exercise while seated on a padded chair. Just remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

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10 Responses to “I Think I’ll Do Upper Body Today (Female subtitle- I think I’ll just run today)”

  1. […] I Think I’ll Do Upper Body Today (Female subtitle- I think I’ll just run today)….by Michael Boyle. Where guys like to bench and women hit the treadmill, elliptical, or bike. […]

  2. It is funny when you design a workout that doesn’t have a chest exercise directly prescribed. The athlete’s reactions are priceless. Like allowing your son to borrow the car, but telling him he has to fill it with gas first. (I don’t have kids but it is an expression my father used on me when I was baffled by a situation.) Maybe a decent plan would be to stretch what you see in the mirror, and strengthen what you can’t see! Is “pre-hab” really more baby sitting because of the lack of thought or athlete education? Are we really that narcissistic by nature to continue to avoid proper training recommendations? Move it or lose it. Move it too much, and you won’t be able to use it either. Oh, and by the way, the “seated” or “lying” exercises are “easy” comment by the author… You get out of it what you put into it. Machine, seated, and/or lying exercises are just another tool in the toolbox. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between athletes training on machines vs. traditional in a well rounded, well thought out program. Too many “professionals” have egos and want to fit in with the “cool trend” instead of just sticking to “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Our profession needs to stop with the “machines are bad” or “functional training is where it’s at”, etc., type remarks. I believe it is Mike Boyle who said that squatting may be bad in an article on here, and even said that HIT may have some “truths”. Yep, I was at that NSCA presentation. Well a good alternative for those who can’t squat would be the leg press. A seated exercise that an educated and motivated athlete won’t be able to stand up from at the completion of one set. Well not true if you push your body hard enough. But I will leave that rationale to your imagination. Using the right tools for the job is key to helping athletes reach their potential. It all works when used in moderation! Sorry for the rant…

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