Simplify Your Training



In 1997, Apple Computer was close to bankruptcy.  Steve Jobs, one of the co-founders of Apple, returned to assess the company to try to see what could be done to save the company.  Apple was spending most of their time and resources trying to develop too many different devices at once.  During one of the product review sessions, Steve Jobs yelled out “Stop”.  He drew a two by two column on the whiteboard in the room that specified on four different types of computers.  He said that Apple is going to focus on these four computers ONLY!  By making the decision to simplify their approach to designing computers, Steve Jobs ultimately saved the company and transformed Apple into a tech titan.  CLICK HERE to read the full article.

The Lesson To Learn From Steve Jobs

Ok, now Barbell Scholar is a resource dedicated to strength training and conditioning.  So allow me to address what you are all thinking, “what the hell does Apple Computer have anything to do with strength training?”  Well, to be honest, it has everything to do with strength training.

Human beings are microcosms of nations and corporations, the same behavioral characteristics that apply to these two large types of entities can be applied to an individual.

Consider the “novelty addict personality syndrome” (NAPS); a term that I myself have completely made up to describe the behavioral disorder that prevents most people from achieving success.  These individuals will start out full of enthusiasm on a new task and will be very pleased with the amount of minor success they achieve at first.  However, once the “beginner’s luck” starts to wear out from their new venture, they decide to quit and move on to the next new venture that they can find so they can self gratify themselves with instant gratification off of their minor success.

Now clearly there is a HUGE difference between massive success and minor success.  If you observe most individuals who have achieved massive success in anything, you will always find there was a massive struggle before that massive success.  The struggle paves the way for your success because it teaches you what you cannot teach yourself.  Most people take the struggle personally and let their emotions get the best of them and then they quit.

You can’t take things personally, you have to persist and keep grinding when things get tough.  You have to rethink your approach and find a way to make your success become your new reality.

Therefore, to reimagine your approach, I encourage you to learn from Steve Jobs and Simplify Your Training!  

Simplify Your Training

Obviously you are going to struggle with any training goal you set for yourself.  There is now easy way out, just accept it!  So how can you persist through the grind?  Simplify!  How can you make progress all the time?  Simplify!  How can you succeed?  Simplify!

Let’s begin with a story:

Ryan, a 22 year old college senior, majoring in business administration, decides that he wants to get a 315 bench press before he graduates from college.  It is the first semester of his senior year, and Ryan’s max bench press is 240 lbs.  He has a year to get to his goal, plenty of time.  Ryan gets to work immediately and starts to go on all sorts of different fitness websites to try and learn about the “secret” to a 315 bench press.  He hears about this new “killer” exercise routine that he has read about online that isolates the triceps more.  Ryan has read plenty of articles that state that the bench press works the triceps.  Therefore, if he just gets really strong triceps with this new exercise routine, he will get to his goal.  Ryan performs the exercise routine to the T.  Every set, every rep is accounted for and Ryan triceps have gotten stronger and a little bigger.  His bench press increases from 240 to 250 in the next couple of weeks, a 10 lb. PR!  Ryan is ecstatic, he continues to use the program.  The semesters end is coming by and finals are right around the corner and Ryan has only increased his bench press by about 5 more pounds (255 lbs).  He doesn’t understand it.  His triceps are getting stronger, and his body can annihilate the exercise routine.  Frustrated, he quits and goes home for vacation after finishing the first semester.  

When Ryan arrives home, he feels glad that he is back home and is telling all his family members about his wild Thirsty Thursdays’  parties.  But Ryan still is not really enjoying his vacation, he did not make much progress toward his 315 bench press.  After his family’s christmas party, he decides to step foot back into the gym after a couple of weeks off.  He decides to go onto the bench press and tries to max out, he reaches 235 lbs and stalls out.  Now Ryan has really hit rock bottom, he is frustrated beyond belief and is starting to believe that his genetics just will not allow him to bench heavy weight.  

All of a sudden, Ryan hears a hissing sound from behind him.  There is some guy on the bench press behind him pressing 355 lbs with ease for multiple reps.  No spotter, no headphones and he is completely calm and focused.  Ryan observes this fellow and notices that, yes indeed, he is muscular and has a pretty decent size, however, he does not look like a raging behemoth from the muscle magazines.  

Finally getting some courage, Ryan walks up to the guy and asks him, “Excuse me, sir?”  “How did you get to bench that kind of weight?”  

The man just looks at Ryan and responds “It’s simple, I just focus only on my bench press and nothing else.” 

“What!” Ryan exclaims.

“Yep, I just bench and try to add a little more weight every week and eventually, after some time, I arrived at where I am now.”

“Thank you sir!” Ryan responds.

After hearing that, Ryan decides to go back to the gym and focus exclusively on his bench press, he researches different techniques to try until he eventually finds one that works best for him.  He then makes sure to bench press at least twice a week, only adding 5 lbs to the bar each week.  

Four weeks have gone by and Ryan has added 20 lbs to his bench, he has made more progress in one month than he did for the entirety of last semester.  As the weeks go on, Ryan just keeps pushing himself on the bench press little by little each week.  He is close to the end of his last semester at college and his current max is 310 lbs.  So close to his goal.  Ryan goes to the gym after class, he puts 315 on the bar.  He gets a little nervous, but then he gets calm and realizes that is only 5 more pounds from last week.  He lies down on the bench, his spotter un-racks the bar, he takes a deep breath, lowers the bar down to his chest and explodes up with all his might with nothing else going on in his mind except getting that bar up.  Finally, he feels his elbows lock out and the spotter grabs the bar and racks it.  Ryan jumps in the air and yells out, “I did it!”  

Later that night in the dining hall, people at his table are talking a million miles an hour about a wide array of topics, but Ryan doesn’t hear them.  He is thinking about his accomplishment earlier in the weight room and says to himself, “I can’t believe it was really that simple!”

The story illustrates how simplifying your workouts can make all the difference.  Think about it,  what was the mistake Ryan was making during his first semester with his “killer” tricep workout?  He was focusing too much on his triceps and his assistance work and less time on his actual bench press.  He was making the same mistake that most new lifters make.  Rather than just focusing on the bench press alone, he was trying to do too many things at once and he made very little progress.  This is why we must simplify our training.

Eliminate The Garbage

Right now, take a good look at your training programs and ask yourself, do all of these exercises help me accomplish my goals, or is most of it just garbage?  In other words are you accomplishing something or just burning calories.  Garbage consists of all the useless flashy exercises we do to make “progress”, but really we are just preventing boredom.  Only when we eliminate the garbage can we simplify our training.


When is the last time you made actual progress? Can’t remember? Eliminate the garbage!

Do you keep getting the same recurring injuries on the same exercise?  Eliminate the garbage!

Have your reached a never ending plateau?  Eliminate the garbage!

Are you paying more attention to your cell phone instead of your reps?  Eliminate the garbage!

Training is serious work.  I’m not saying not to have fun, but what I am saying is to realize that if you want to get real results you have to focus and prepare for hard work, there is no easy way out.  So what are you waiting for?  Simplify your training!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *