Yup, you could call me Dan John’s son. For my own personal musings with working out and if I had to create a program a program for an athlete in which I knew I could not be there, there is no doubt in my mind that simpler is often better. Heck, simpler could be better most of the time. It could probably get people more motivated to lift because it is simple, quick, and effective. I am basically talking about the human movements that we all can do in the gym. Dan John is notorious for have a simple successful approach to lifting and if there is anyone who could prove this true, it is him. If you see the weight numbers his athletes put up, it is impressive and they are legitimate. No bad form here. But if you had to make a complete what route would you pick? These are just some of those human movmements we all have come to know.
- Walk-Runs-Sprints under load
If you have these in your program, you are setting yourself up for success. Most times, however it is how you implement them at certain stages of the off-season that make the biggest difference. Nonetheless, these simple movements actually offer tons of variety. You may be thinking, “no way is it that simple.” Here is all the types of exercises you could plug-in for each movement. Obviously we are looking for balance with each but sometimes we may need more of one then the other (i.e. usually more pulls then presses).
Push : DB/Barbell Bench Press, Push-Ups, Suspended Push-ups, stability ball Push-ups, DB/Barbell Overhead presses, Push presses,DB/Barbell Floor presses, Standing Cable press
- With most of these exercises to create variety you could perform them with 1-arm at a time or in an alternating fashion which makes it unilateral (obviously) and can stress the core in a useful way.
I.E. 1-arm cable chest press
Alternating DB Floor Press
Pull: All Rows (Barbell, DB, Chest-supported), Chin-ups (grip can be underhand, neutral, overhand), Lat Pulldowns, Bat-wings, other basic retraction exercises.
- Just like the pushes, you can make these 1-arm or alternating.
1-arm standing cable row (proper retraction)
Batwing Hold (Kevin Carr demonstrates this nicely)
**I must say that if there is one movement that is critical to learn and you could probably just knock off all the other 1-arm 1-leg stuff it would probably be Turkish Get-Ups. This bad boy is simply just one of those movements where just doing those alone could probably make you a beast.
Hip Hinge: These movements include any double and single leg posterior chain movements. I would also say that you could include explosive lifts as well since that is where the power needs to be generated. These can include snatches, cleans, and box/vertical/broad jumps.
- Deadlift variations: straight leg deadlift (knee flexed 10-15 degrees), 1-leg SLDL with either dumbbell inside or outside leg. Cable pullthroughs, glute bridges and all their variations, hip thrusts, Slideboard/Stability Ball hamstring curls.
Slideboard Hamstring Curl w/ 1 -leg Negative: Progression from normal slideboard hamstring curls.
1-leg 1-arm SLDL
Squat: These include double leg and single leg movements (as well) although I would prefer single leg movements more often times then bilateral squat lifts. Reason being that if there is usually a breakdown in form on a bilateral squat it is almost always the low back that gives not the legs. For this reason single leg lifts can be safer and have better carryover. If athletes/clients are experiencing problems back squatting, an awesome alternative is the box squat or just doing unilateral squat exercises.
The list can include: Any bilateral squat variation (back or front squat).
- Single Leg: For most of the single leg variations you can hold dumbbells at sides or in goblet position.
- DB/Goblet Reverse Lunges, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats (dumbbells, goblet, back squat grip, front squat grip), Slideboard Reverse Lunge (a mix of squat and posterior chain), Forward lunges, single leg squats.
I really like the Double KB front squat
I would prefer these instead of pistol squats
Walk/Run/Sprint-Under load: Basically these include loaded carries, sprints with weight vest, sled pushes/drags.
There’s these five movements that I provided, yet the variations of those movements are extensive. These movements are sure-fire ways to be successful for any athletic goals you may have. You would also probably be 95% ahead of the rest of the typical fitness world if this was your program. Hope this helps with some exercise selection choices as well.